On the silent barricades of the Russia-Ukraine combat zones, a number of American Special Operations Forces veterans assist in planning combat missions and training Ukrainian forces close to the front lines despite repeated warnings from the Pentagon.

Perry Blackburn Jr., 60, a retired Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel, claimed it “would be a waste” not to use his skills in an absolute emergency. He used to train local forces to resist a foe and is now doing the same thing in Ukraine as a volunteer.

Blackburn was among the small group of Special Forces troops who entered Afghanistan on horses at the beginning of the American invasion in 2001. The retired colonel is now supporting similar initiatives in his aim to halt the killings with the help of thousands of small internet donations from the general public.

“At my age, I’ve seen enough death, and I want to try to stop the bloodshed. We need to give people the means to defend themselves,” he added.

According to analysts, the participation of American volunteers could culminate in some terrible occurrence that would involve the US in an escalation like what happened in Vietnam.

To recall, this was the scene in South Vietnam in 1961 when the United States decided to provide armed support and guidance to the newly established Republic of Vietnam immediately after the Geneva Accords and during the time of the French retreat from Indo-China.

Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Inauguration 2017.
Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Inauguration 2017.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had a negative outlook. They claimed that establishing a Vietnamese Army might not yield “internal political stability,” much less guarantee the country’s capacity to safeguard itself against foreign assault.

 The JCS also considered it unfeasible to train the new army owing to the Geneva agreements’ limits on the number of US military personnel, especially given the scarcity of veteran leaders that was a relic of French colonialism. The military advisers to the president didn’t want to blame for failure without the power and resources to increase the likelihood of triumph.

As a result, the United States sent a group of uniformed advisors to assist in the training of Vietnamese troops.  This then led to them advising them on operations in the field which then led to them being in combat and finally, full US involvement in the conflict to the tune of some 500,000 troops deployed to the region.

Russia Questions US’ Involvement 

Russia would consider volunteer combatants as “mercenaries” and may put them to death if caught. Americans were urged not to participate in the fighting by US President Joe Biden.

Before the war started, Biden was forced to withdraw its 150 military trainers, and now it relies on a limited number of operatives from other NATO nations to orchestrate the movement of weaponry within Ukraine. US military trainers are still at work with Ukrainian forces but are in NATO countries like Poland, Hungary and Estonia. 

Russian Flag
Russian Flag

The volunteers reject the premise that they might be inciting a larger struggle. Simply put, the US veterans are attempting to thwart one by equipping Ukrainian soldiers to repel the Russian attack and possibly withstand it.

To evade Russian rocket assaults, Blackburn and a few volunteers frequently moved training sites while teaching the Ukrainian military about shooting, navigating, combat first aid, and other fundamental skills needed in their fight against Russia.

 He added that not every volunteer looking for employment with the Ukrainian military has years of professional expertise. Instead, he and other veterans claimed they came across potential trainers with exaggerated resumes and, in some cases, no military experience.

However, the veterans assert that the Pentagon has no “communication” into whatever they do in the combat zone.

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“We have no communication with the US military, period,” Blackburn said in an interview.

“That’s a line they don’t want to cross. They are not going to take any responsibility for our well-being or our actions,” he added.

However, the action to prevent a military confrontation fell far short as the Ukrainian army’s necessary training kept growing – which veteran volunteers are occupying to sustain all the attacks.

The retired Marine Corps Special Operations colonel Andrew Milburn, the person in charge of a team of veteran civilians who offer guidance and training, stated that they are “executing US foreign policy in a way the military can’t.”

The Defense Department stated that they are not “affiliated” with the veterans working under the table. However, it also prohibited all American citizens from going to Ukraine or advised fleeing immediately “if it is safe to do so.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 under the pretense of “demilitarizing” and “de-Nazifying” as it moved closer to NATO, thousands of civilians and troops have been killed or been injured and at least 12 million civilians in Ukraine have been displaced by the war.