In a scene from National Geographic’s upcoming documentary series, Chain of Command, U.S. Army Col. Patrick Work addresses his command staff via video teleconference from a tent in an unnamed location in Iraq.
“The number one priority for us, is to protect the homeland and the American people from attack,” narrates Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the loading ramp of an aircraft raises to reveal a flightline in an unremarkable and indeterminate location.
Few civilians can get away with talking about the military the way Sebastian Junger does. Among mainstream journalists, his commentary on the experience of being an American soldier in the post-9/11 world is unparalleled in its depth and honesty. Over the years, he’s amassed a body of award-winning work — articles, books, films — that challenges popular assumptions about what it means to serve, and the psychological impact that service has on those who do. That’s a remarkable achievement for someone who’s never worn the uniform.