NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners are speaking out against a new NBC competition series they say treats military maneuvers like athletic events.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the other Nobel laureates protested in an open letter that the show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” glorifies war and armed violence.

The series, which premiered on Monday night, pairs celebrities with inactive U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. Celebrity participants include boxing champion Laila Ali, Superman actor Dean Cain, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd Palin.

The program is hosted by retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

“I’m doing this series for one reason,” says Clark at the top of the show – “to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals that sacrifice so much for all of us.”

The series is billed on its website as a “fast-paced competition” whose contestants “will gather at a remote training facility where they will be challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises.”

“Stars Earn Stripes” says it “pays homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces and our first-responder services.”

Desmond Tutu Asks NBC to Cancel Stars and Stripes

Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivers a speach during an institutional celebration on the eve of South Sudan's independence first anniversary, at Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba on July 8, 2012. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu today appealed for peace in troubled South Sudan, on the eve of the country's first anniversary. Tutu was speaking to political, military and religious leaders from the world's youngest nation, where looming conflict with the rump state of Sudan and dim economic prospects cast a pall over celebrations. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The letter, sent Monday to Clark, NBC boss Robert Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and others connected with the show, argues “this program pays homage to no one anywhere” and criticizes it for “trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition.”

The Washington Post has more from the note:

“This program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence,” the Laureates wrote to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett, and to General Wesley Clark, the former presidential candidate who’s hosting the competition series.

The show is “a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent,” the Nobel laureates, said in a letter, which was sent to reporters Monday by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a group created in 2006 by six female Nobel Peace Prize winners.

“Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public,” the nine continued.

The letter calls for NBC to stop airing the series.

NBC, responding to the charges, said that “Stars Earn Stripes” is “about thanking the young Americans who are in harm’s way every day.”

“This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service,” NBC said in a statement.

Besides Tutu, signers of the letter are Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams.

The Nobel laureates also declared their support for a protest against the show outside NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters in Manhattan on Monday.