Keith Nightingale Bio

Colonel (Ret.) Keith Nightingale:  Santa Barbara, California, USA

Education:  United States Army War College (1987) U.S. Army Command and General Staff School 1976). BS (Pol Sci) Claremont McKenna College 1965

Military Background:

U.S. Army (1965-1993) included the following assignments:  Last assignment was as the Director of the Department of Defense (DOD) Counter-drug Task Force in Latin America, Mr. (then Colonel) Nightingale supervised a stand-alone Joint staff organization of 68 personnel including military, Customs, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and INS personnel.  The organization was designed and managed by Col (Ret). Nightingale and included state of the art communications systems and all source intelligence capabilities.  The task force was responsible for developing and executing an Andean Ridge regional interdiction attack on the drug industry combining U.S. and Host Nation assets.  His responsibilities included planning and executing the DOD and Customs Aviation Support to the counter-drug effort as well as supervision of the Andean Ridge Security Assistance Program and the Escobar Task Force.  Col (Ret) Nightingale was the key coordinator for DOD in the pursuit of Pablo Escobar and managed the direct support to the Government of Colombia..

Col (Ret) Nightingale served two tours in Vietnam.  One as the Senior Advisor to the 52d Vietnamese Ranger battalion to include Tet 1968.  The second was as a rifle company commander in the 101st Airborne to include Lam Son 719.  Upon return from Vietnam, Captain Nightingale became a founding member of the 1st of the 75th Ranger Battalion when it was created by Gen Creighton Abrams in 1974-later commanding both that battalion and the Ranger brigade.  

His first battalion command was the 509th Airborne, an independent airborne battalion in Italy with a broad North American Treaty Organization mission. He later commanded the 2-505 battalion task force in the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1-75th Rangers and the Ranger Training Brigade. 

His experiences in these commands included the liberation of Grenada and Panama and a variety of special operations missions.  As the Ranger Brigade commander, Mr. Nightingale developed the present Army Ranger Training Program and initiated the Snowcap Model Training Program for DEA personnel assigned to operational missions in Latin America.

As a battalion commander in the 82d, Then LTC Nightingale conceptualized and executed the return of the 82d Airborne to Normandy for the 40th Anniversary-this was the first time they had been to St Mere Eglise since 6 June 1944.  Subsequently, Col (Ret) Nightingale has led annual battlefield terrain walks in the Normandy area and is an honorary citizen of the city of St Mere Eglise.  Col (Ret) Nightingale commanded at every level in the 2-505 from 2lt Plt Ldr to Bn Cdr and Acting Commander, 505 PIR.

Mr. Nightingale’s military Staff Assignments included as an original member of the US Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command when they were created in the aftermath of the failed Iran rescue. Prior to this, he was a member of the Special Operations Directorate of the Army Staff and participated as the Ground Operations Officer within Task Force Eagle Claw-the Iran Rescue attempt.   Key programs included participating in the planning for the Iran rescue, Achille Lauro Incident, Dozier Kidnapping, TWA Hijacking, US SEA MIA  issues/extractions and the various Beirut Hostage Programs.  Additional responsibilities in this area included developing and executing a zero based special operations budget exceeding 300m USD.  Mr. Nightingale also served as Special Assistant of the Commander-In-Chief, U.S. Special Operations Command and US CincSouth.

Col (Ret) Nightingale was a key planner and developer of the Contra camps in Honduras as well as in the suppression of Radio Venceremos and the Sandanista logistics operations in the Gulf of Fonseca.

During a portion of the above, he was seconded to the Central Intelligence Agency within its operations directorate.

Professional Affiliations:  U.S. Army Ranger Society of Vietnamese Rangers, Life Member in the 505 PIR and the Ranger Regiment.

Awards/Honors:  Defense Superior Service Medal, Three Legions of Merit, Five Defense Meritorious Service Medals, Humanitarian Service Medal (Iran) and Four Bronze Stars with Valor, Vietnamese Medal of Honor and Croix De Guerre w/Gold Palm. Member of the 82d and Ranger Regiment Halls of Fame, Officer of the French Legion d’Honneur.