Combating extremism and those who do it
The next time you thank a serviceman or woman in uniform for their service, the makers of a new National Geographic series want you to know exactly what you’re thanking them for.
Which is the objective of “Chain of Command,” premiering Monday, Jan. 15. Made in collaboration with the Pentagon and narrated by Chris Evans (“Captain America”), the eight-part documentary series chronicles the U.S. military’s mission to fight violent extremism around the world, from the halls of power in Washington, D.C., to the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger and South America and even the surprising ISIS recruiting ground of Trinidad and Tobago in the southern Caribbean.
It also profiles some of the men and women involved in this fight and shows how a decision made in the Pentagon has a direct impact on everyone in the chain of command, right down to the soldiers on the ground.
“It’s been an amazing experience to be able to meet and then tell the stories of these … heroes,” series showrunner Scott Boggins told a recent gathering of journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif. “They’re inspiring individuals from the highest levels of the U.S. military to the boots on the ground. We have several of our field producers here who spent a huge amount of time, and it’s pretty dangerous places, but we were always with groups of men and women who showed incredible commitment, and we were there with them to tell their stories during this time where extremism – you know, violent extremism affects everyone.”
To tell these stories, the “Chain” crew were granted unprecedented access to the U.S. military, going behind the scenes with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (including the chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr.) as military strategies are devised, as well as following commanders in the region and even the soldiers in the midst of battle.
“There was a moment that we captured on film …,” says Jeff Hasler, NatGeo’s executive vice president of development and production, “of one of our teams in Mosul, and the house they were in. They were imbedded with the Iraqi Defense Force and they were under heavy attack from an ISIS group. And you can’t really see what’s happening because of the way the cameras are moving, but you can hear on camera the Iraqi soldiers telling our crew, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll die before we let them get you.’ ”