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Interview with Neil Vermillion: Being a Volunteer Fighter & Trainer

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Note: Some explicit language in this video.

I am honored today to have a chance to interview Neil Vermillion about his experiences in Iraq, Kurdistan, and Ukraine. Neil is a US Army veteran (2002-2006) who served contracts in Kurdistan (2016) and Ukraine (2022) for the nonprofit PMC Sons of Liberty International. In Kurdistan he was a volunteer training and fighting with a group of Kurds around Erbil and Mosul. In Ukraine, he trained Ukrainian snipers and other troops. Today we are going to discuss everything from motivations to field food to the best tourist spots in scenic northern Iraq…

0:00:38 – Neil’s basic background
0:01:31 – What was he paid and why did he go to these places?
0:10:28 – Weirdest or most obscure small arm he saw in combat
0:11:44 – How does his experience compare to Internet forum advice?
0:13:55 – Popular misconceptions about military weapons?
0:14:47 – What surprised you about Russians?
0:17:04 – How prevalent are the oddball guns in Ukraine?
0:18:45 – Kurdish & Ukrainian DShK and AMRs compares to Barrett and M2HB?
0:21:17 – Training quality of Peshmerga & Ukrainians? How do they compare to their enemies?
0:24:49 – Unexpected similarities and differences between the Peshmerga & Ukrainians?
0:26:23 – Use of indirect artillery support?
0:28:58 – How practical are rifle slings, really?
0:31:59 – High-tech gear: asset or liability?
0:34:30 – How does the food compare between US Iraq, Peshmerga, and Ukraine?
0:38:25 – Followup, who do you save first, the medic or the cook?
0:39:18 – Is Ukrainian technological superiority really as big as it seems?
0:40:54 – What would your ideal rifle setup be?
0:42:16 – Followup, thermal vs IR
0:43:54 – Planning and use of supporting fires
0:45:08 – Are Ukrainian commanders using foreign fighters effectively?
0:47:07 – Will competition shooting get you killed in war?
0:49:45 – If you could implement a significant change, what would it be?
0:53:54 – Best tourism spots in northern Iraq?
0:56:56 – Language barriers with locals?
1:00:13 – Competent trains vs war tourists
1:05:26 – Division of time spent on the lines, in rear echelon, and on R&R?
1:09:03 – Roadblocks from the US government to this sort of volunteering?
1:13:06 – What did you regret not bringing with you?
1:14:22 – Upgraded Ukrainian Ads – provided by government or bought individually?
1:16:14 – What piece of equipment surprised you the most?
1:18:37 – Logistics compared between US Iraq, Kurdistan, and Ukraine
1:21:26 – Use of RPG-7s today
1:23:33 – Any preconceived notions about Ukraine that changed?
1:28:16 – What is your Arabic forearm tattoo?

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