The Council of Five is a group consisting of the five highest-ranking generals in the Earth KingdomArmy. As such, it is the highest authority in the Earth Kingdom military and oversaw the country's entire war effort against the Fire Nation during the Hundred Year War. Near the end of the War, the council was led by General How, the commanding officer of the military, and among the council members was General Sung, who defended Ba Sing Se's Outer Wall from attack.
The Council of Five has existed for as long as there has been a king in Ba Sing Se, and they work hand in hand with the king to protect the city. However, near the end of the war with the Fire Nation, Grand SecretariatLong Feng held the true power over the country through his use of the elite Dai Li forces, and the Council members were forced to answer to him. The council worked in secrecy and hid the fact that there was a war from the Earth King. They showed Long Feng all of their war plans and attacks for approval before carrying them out on the battlefield. However, after AvatarAang and his friends exposed Long Feng's conspiracy to the Earth King, the council resumed their regular duties and loyalties to the Earth King.
After Long Feng's true nature was exposed, the council raided his office and found several valuable documents that Aang's group needed, such as a message to Aang from Guru Pathik, who hoped to teach him about the Avatar State. After the group revealed to the council the chance to invade the Fire Nation by attacking on the Day of Black Sun, the council immediately drew up plans to launch an invasion on that date. They decided to launch the attack from General Fong's mountain fortress in the western Earth Kingdom, and began to assemble their troops.
However, the council was never able to launch the attack, as PrincessAzula of the Fire Nation infiltrated Ba Sing Se along with her friends Mai and Ty Lee, disguised as Kyoshi Warriors. Through some careful manipulation, she gained control of the Dai Li, and they all proceeded to capture the Earth King and the Council of Five. The whole council was placed under house arrest, and without the proper leadership for the invasion, the Earth Kingdom attack never reached fulfillment.
The Council of Five's members were all restored as the leaders of the Earth Kingdom Army after Ba Sing Se was liberated and the War was finally ended by Avatar Aang. They continue to serve Earth King Kuei who, upon reclaiming his throne, moved toward re-establishing peace through the Harmony Restoration Movement.
However, a year after the movement began, the world was once again brought to the brink of war when Fire LordZuko withdrew his support for the movement and refused to remove the Fire Nation colonials living in the city of Yu Dao. Asserting his newfound authority, Kuei ordered General How to lead a massive Earth Kingdom Army to retake the city in the name of the Earth Kingdom. With Kuei overseeing the battle from afar, How personally confronted Zuko as the latter attempted to defend his people, but the battle ended peacefully when Avatar Aang separated the city from the mainland and convinced Kuei and How to witness how the colonists and Earth Kingdom citizens were able to find peace with each other. How subsequently ended the siege and peace was restored once more.
The Council of Five holds its meetings in a large, open room which allows for a panoramic view of the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se. Various Earth Kingdom insignia decorate the room in all forms and shapes, ranging from banners to statues, and the grandeur of the room is aimed at reflecting the Council's high position.
An enormous map of the world sits in the center of the chamber, with a curved conference table at the top where the five council members convene to discuss war strategies. Small, clay figurines that represent Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation forces are positioned on the map to keep track of ongoing operations or to plan future campaigns. By using earthbending, the members of the Council can shift and relocate the pieces on the map. The council used this map when discussing plans for the invasion of the Fire Nation with Katara.