Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners are speaking out against a new NBC competition series they say treats military manoeuvres like athletic events.

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

"It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence.

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People — military and civilians — die in ways that are anything but entertaining," the letter said.

Tutu who won his Nobel in 1984 for efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, was joined in the letter by American anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland, former East Timor President Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, Argentine artist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala and Iranian lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi.

The series premiered on NBC on Monday night. It pairs celebrity participants such as singer Nick Lachey and politician Sarah Palin's husband Todd with U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges.

The letter calling for an end to the show was sent Monday to NBC boss Robert Greenblatt and others connected with the show.

NBC issued a statement denying that Stars Earn Stripes glorifies war.

"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," the network said.