National Geographic to Air ‘American War Generals’ Documentary

National Geographic has announced it will air a two-hour documentary on the history of American warfare and leadership on September 14. Called “American War Generals,” the documentary will focus on the last fifty years of American war. It will include a variety of interviews with notable leaders such as Colin Powell, Stanley McChrystal, and David Petraeus, chairman of KKR’s Global Institute.

From the Vietnam war to America’s war with Al-Qaeda, the documentary will look at military history through the eyes of eleven active and retired US Army generals. The never-before-heard stories will chronicle the big changes that led American troops into Vietnam and out of Afghanistan, including complicated personal experiences and broad decisions that redefined an entire approach to modern warfare.

The interviewed generals discuss the politics and challenges of the places behind the action they saw. “The problems in Iraq today are inherently the same as they were when I was there,” says General George Casey, who served from 1970 to 2011. “The elected government is not seen as representative of the entire population.” He goes on to express his belief that the US did everything in its power to help the Iraqis transition to democracy.

colin powell national geographic war generals

Retired General Colin Powell. / Image: via National Geographic.

The interviews include more personal stories as well: General Petraeus describes being badly wounded during a training exercise (“It knocks the wind out of you, to put it mildly”), and Lieutenant General Flynn describes how his upbringing in a large family taught him to mediate conflict and work well with others.

The documentary was produced by filmmaker Tresha Mabile and journalist Peter Bergen with Towers Productions, which has produced other war specials for National Geographic.

In addition to watching the documentary itself next week, interested viewers can go to the National Geographic website to find further information, including short video interviews with General Casey on Iraqi politics, General Clark on the Iraq invasion, Lieutenant General Eikenberry on Afghanistan, and General McChrystal on the Black Hawk Down operation. There are also infographics available on topics such as army uniforms and rank.

“American War Generals” will air on Sunday, September 14 at 8 PM ET/PT.

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