The veterans are gathering in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, with many on their way.
“We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force,” Air Force veteran Elizabeth Williams told the Guardian. “We’ve stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has vowed to fight the president’s order to push ahead with the pipeline despite the US Army Corps of Engineers stating it would cancel its planned environmental impact study and grant a permit for construction of the final phase of the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe to go ahead.
The protest camps are being prepared for flooding that is expected to come as temperatures increase. The veterans’ presence will present a challenge to law enforcement wishing to remove water protectors from the area.
Previous clashes between security officials and protesters have been violent, with police deploying water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas at protesters. Private contractors also set dogs on the demonstrators.