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.