Interview with Neil Vermillion: Being a Volunteer Fighter & Trainer

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…

You can follow Neil on Instagram at

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?


  1. Regarding: “0:47:07 – Will competition shooting get you killed in war?”
    One thing that is almost always lacking from competition shooting is the buddy/group communication. Notice that Neil’s use of a “competition” setup for train very much included coordination with others.

  2. “Popular misconceptions about military weapons?”
    Answer to this reminded me quote attributed to John Glenn answering When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?:
    I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.

    • A specialized AA weapon/sight will be required anyway, at a further cost; probably…

      Lets talk sights! 1/2 price of “Specialized AA weapons”

      For only another 4.6m quid; you get a flip up Browning M2 ww2 ship mount AA sight, with a picatinny rail attachment.

      Bust those drones.

      Mind you we/folk probably need a; weapon, to bust drones… Looking at that… Fuel/air blast to me; vaporise the near airspace. Duck obviously. Put your fingers in your ears, your cheaper than ww2 iron sights.

      Best answer: Don’t require them, via trying “much harder, much harder in this seriously nuclear armed world to avoid direct confrontation.” much harder, like we used to since the advent of ze A bomb.

      I blame Rona; everyone had gone loop de loop. On the quiet.

      • You can’t all be E.U truck drivers. Ukraine; is it worth being vapourised.

        I mean is it? I have no idea. The shitty E.U etc should not have left you so skint then since the Soviet break up.


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