I'm glad Danny Nightingale's out of prison - but even for a member of the elite SAS, keeping a pistol is asking for trouble

No matter how elite you are, it's bludgeoned into every soldier - watch your ammo

Share
Related Topics

As a former guest there, I wouldn’t wish anyone Christmas in military prison and on those grounds I was happy to see Sergeant Danny Nightingale get one over the military’s bizarre version of a justice system.

It goes to show the power of the media when facing the military machine. Nightingale took a serious step as a Special Forces man when he went public. The spotlight rattles commanders in units much less secretive than the SAS, so the impact must have been particularly jarring for them when the 11 year SAS veteran’s name and photo appeared in the media.

Publicity can turn a military case; the reason the military rolled over on charges of desertion against me was almost certainly because we put our argument against the legality of the Afghan war as visibly as possible. As my caustic lawyer said memorably at the time “they don’t like the sunlight, Joe, it makes their slime dry up”.

Cowboys

I would say, however, that the brain injury Nightingale sustained on a charity hike in Brazil must have been serious indeed to forget soldiering fundamentals about weaponry and bullets. From the first time you line up on a firing range in basic training, soldiers are taught that if you have any loose rounds in your possession, you turn them over. And weapons are not to be taken home, presumably even if you are in the SAS.

Unlike our American military cousins, whose budgets and gun culture are at the Hollywood end of the spectrum, losing a single round is a terrifying prospect. A single 5.56mm round, which costs a pound or so to produce, once lost, exacts a serious financial toll on the soldier. I recall a colleague lost a magazine of twenty rounds in Afghanistan and was duly charged £250 per bullet from his meagre private’s wages.

Almost as a testament to their elite-ness, SAS soldier go under presumably self-given and (dare I say it?) slightly camp nicknames like ‘Blades' or ‘Hooligans’. But for all their undoubted mystique and shadowy martial kudos, the SAS have something of a cowboy reputation in the rest of the army. 

Ammo

One suspects, having spoken to ex-members regarding the retention of weapons and ammunition, that in the last month or so there is a regimental amnesty bucket somewhere near Hereford which contains more destructive firepower then Krakatoa.

One Special Forces veteran told me that “If they searched every SAS bloke the whole unit would be prosecuted. I remember handing a shit-load of ordnance in when I left.”

Sgt Nightingale’s other sensible decision, aside from courting publicity, was to get his own lawyer instead of an army one. The saga of Danny Nightingale, I have no doubts at all, will make an excellent read when his inevitable book comes out and joins the dozens of Special Forces-flavoured boy’s own adventures in Waterstones.

Which should go some way to paying off the substantial legal fee’s he has incurred.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Port Eliot Festival  

How to keep it real in the digital age this summer

Simon Kelner
 

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on