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The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats

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02/17/2007 05:22 AM
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The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats
The First Earth Battalion was the name proposed by Jim Channon, an American soldier who had seen service in Vietnam, for his idea of a new US military to be organised along New Age lines. Such a battalion was never formed.

According to the book The Men Who Stare at Goats (ISBN 0-330-37548-2) by journalist Jon Ronson, Channon spent time in the seventies with many of the people credited with starting the New Age movement and subsequently wrote an operations manual for a First Earth Battalion. Rather than using bullets and munitions, Channon envisaged that this new force would attempt to conquer the hearts and minds of the enemy using positive vibrations, carrying lambs symbolic of peace and employing unconventional but non-lethal weapons to subdue others. Lethal force was to be a last resort. Members would practise meditation, use yogic cat stretches and primal screams to attain battle-readiness, and use shiatsu as battlefield first aid.

Some ideas proposed in the writings of Channon later found their way into military procedures for psychological warfare. Ronson specifically cites the First Earth Battalion manual's proposal to use music to effect "psychic mind-change" as one. ([1]) However, the American military has adopted loud sound as a psychological weapon, not to win hearts and minds. For example at Waco, Texas, repeating the techniques used four years earlier in an attempt to drive Manuel Noriega from his sanctuary, an earsplitting cacophony of noise was played at the compound 24/7, that included the sound of rabbits being slaughtered, chanting Tibetan monks, roaring jet engines, and the Nancy Sinatra hit, "These Boots Were Made For Walking."

[link to en.wikipedia.org]
A 'new age' army, conceived
see with notated illustrations
[link to ejmas.com]
Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, February 2000
The First Earth Battalion: Dare to Think the Unthinkable, Ideas and Ideals for Soldiers Everywhere
By Jim Channon

Copyright © 1979 Jim Channon, all rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Jim Channon. Introduction and annotation by Joseph R. Svinth. Copyright © 2000, all rights reserved.


In 1979, the Peoples’ Republic of China publicly reported that several thousand of its children aged 8-14 were capable of telepathy, clairvoyance, X-ray vision, or psychokinesis. [EN1] Having already heard about this program, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, and the US Army were simultaneously pouring billions of dollars into their own similar research.

The Army program was headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, and was part of the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). Leaders included Generals Edmund Thompson and Albert Stubblebine, and Colonel John Alexander. [EN2]

Officers assigned to the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania [ [link to carlisle-www.army.mil] contributed research to the project, and "The First Earth Battalion" is essentially a textual copy of one group's unclassified briefing slides.

Although decidedly New Age, the War College project was not entirely theoretical. Colonel Alexander, for example, went on to become a leader in the Los Alamos National Lab's non-lethal weapons program. [EN3] Likewise, during the early 1980s Special Forces hired Richard Strozzi Heckler and other outside contractors to provide two A-teams, a total of 25 men, with training in biofeedback, aikido, and "mind-body psychology." In the latter program, a typical training day included running, swimming, "industrial-strength" calisthenics, and 1-1/2 hours of aikido practice. After six months, the soldiers were not aikido masters but they were quantifiably 75% more physically fit than when they started. [EN4]

During correspondence with the editor in January 2000, author Channon had this to say:
The ideas circulated by this mythical force [First Earth Battalion] began with combat of the collective conscience… the principal that if any contest is viewed by the television audience, it will be judged in the end on ethical superiority. Thus cameras mounted on dune buggies. The Army War College has the most exhaustive instructional materials on peacekeeping. All these ideas were first represented by Earth Battalion thinkers and the manual you have.
Channon's statement may sound hyperbolic, but if you substitute "CNN" for "EARTH BATTALION satellite" in the following document, then you have a good description of the United States military's foreign policy of the 1990s. Likewise, if you think of the global communication system Channon envisioned as the Internet, then it appears that he had a pretty good idea of where ARPANET (the acronym for the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency's computer network) was headed. Therefore, despite the hyperbole and New Age jargon, Channon's crystal ball proved clearer than cynics probably expected.

And if nothing else, the following paper does suggest why drug testing became common for all ranks during the mid-1980s.



Problem statement. Understanding that we must work through people, how can our Army establish and maintain control of changing, interdependent systems to maximize force readiness?

Study thrusts.

1. Process of Influencing People.
2. The Process of Control.
3. The Dynamics of Change.
4. The Nature of Interdependence.
5. The Science of Systems.
6. The Dynamics of Force Readiness.

Concept Paper Title: The First Earth Battalion.

Concept: Task Force Delta's effort needs the track of time. Just as we maintain our perspective of the past and contact with the complexities of the present, our "First Earth Battalion" is the prime place to put thoughts of the future through a basic Army perspective.

Author: LTC James B. Channon

Sponsors: MAJ (P) [Promotable] M.M. Ischinger/COL D.M. Malone


The views expressed in this concept paper are those of the author(s) and do not purport to reflect the positions or policies of the Department of the Army or of the Department of Defense. Requests for additional information or clarification regarding this concept paper should be addressed to HQ TRADOC, ATTN: ATCG-SD, Ft. Monroe, VA 23651.


The track of time comes hurtling up out of the past, from somewhere billions of years ago back in history. It flicks by us as we stand here now in the present and then thrusts on for billions of years out ahead of us, out into the future, bound for some place called infinity.

Two things we know about time: its march is inexorable… and it always gives rise to change. Change, then, is like time, inexorable, inevitable and pervasive -- and so powerful and complex a thing that in just five billion years, change has produced, from inorganic matter and countless millions of experiments, complex living things such as social insects and mankind.

Any concept of change is a concept of time. Thus any concept of change must involve past, present, and future. Task Force Delta's effort, as a concept of change, needs the track of time… the lessons of history, the realities of the present, and the dreams and visions of the future.

Our "First Earth Battalion" is a place to dream. A place to think the unthinkable. It's the prime place to put our thoughts of the future just as we must maintain our perspective of the past and contact with the complexities of the present. It's an "Earth" battalion because of what we know about a shrinking world, and about interdependencies among people, and nations, and natural resources… interdependencies which everyday are becoming more evident to us all. It's a battalion because our study effort is directed to our Army, and the battalion is an entity which all of us soldiers from top to bottom, can comprehend.

Signed: D.M. Malone, COL, US Army


Making this planet whole… requires the ethical use of force. But even subcultures of force must evolve into a master culture. The Army is no exception.

Soldiers can be the principal moral ethical basis on which things political can harmonize in the name of the Earth.


[Editor's note: The following are the headings and textual portions of illustrated briefing slides compiled into a booklet and self-published as "The First Earth Battalion" by Channon in 1979. Spelling errors have been corrected, but all ellipses (…) were the author's rather than the editor's.]


Earthkind has grown from pack to village… and then from village to tribe, then from tribe to territory… and from territory to nation.

It is time to go from nation to planet.

The First Earth Battalion hereby declares its primary allegiance to the planet.

Chinese monks were often attacked by robbers. They developed a new fighting system based on using the force of the attacker against him. Likewise the soldiers of the First Earth will learn martial arts with the same ethical basis. No Earth soldier shall be denied the kingdom of heaven because he or she is used as an instrument of indiscriminate war. The conscience will be developed together with the ability to neutralize the opponent.


The Earth Battalion is potential oriented, not mission oriented, so any definition of what it is or does tends to limit what it can become… At the moment it is a spirit among other things.

By 1990 it may be a pilot community of warrior-monks who completely recycle all resources, live amidst new nuclear reactors and waiting deployment to tension spots.

A think tank methodology for the U.S. Army -- a banner for the closet greathearts wherever they are -- a bonding agent for the idealist activists in the service and out -- a home for the ethical evolution of force -- an alternate form of service to the planet.


The pioneering spirit is not dead in America! Many of the Earth Battalion ideas are taken from the New Age. This small sample of New Age groups shows there is plenty of gold left in the hills of the mind, body and spirit. The rush is on!

[Logos and advertisements posted include:]

* Macrobiotics
* Bahaii Faith
* New Dimensions Foundation
* Beyond Jogging
* In the Flow
* Berkeley Institute for Training in Psychodrama
* Dimensional Mind Approach
* New Age Awareness Fair
* Aikido with Ki
* Briarpatch Review: A Journal of Right Livelihood & Simple Living
* The Center of Release and Integration
* The Owner Builder Center
* Postural Integration Reichian Rebirthing
* The Biofeedback Center of Berkeley
* Integral Chuan Institute
* Arica
* Gentle Wind
* Halpern Sounds
* Spectrum Suite
* Dayspring, Inc.
* The Brosnan Tortoise. (The latter was "a small group who seek to advance the comprehension, experience, and worship of God. Our activities center around the study of The Urania Book.")


Everyone in the First Earth is equally important in the eyes of the organization and will be provided for accordingly. Status is achieved by the skill with which you do your chosen task. It's not important that you move up in the organization… only that your skill level moves up. Leaders will be those [soldiers] whose chosen skills are group interworking and spiritual development.


Always allowing for diversity… we can share the ways that humans are all wonderfully unique. The uniform must serve the soldier's given task but must equally serve to share the most precious gift we each have to share … our personality.

Common banners will serve to share the corporate Earth Battalion personality.

[The picture shows a "Battalion Samurai Battle Mantle"]


Synergy is possible when every soldier brings his or her individual best to the group task. It is multiplied in strength again if that soldier truly loves the other members of the unit. Then we shall have the maximum combat power available.

Things like Fuller's tensegivity illustrate how the maximum in individual tension can be held delicately in check by group unity -- thereby generating the maximum potential energy.

The vector equilibrium, the visible structure, plus LOVE = the invisible bonding.


The First Earth is not mission oriented it is potential oriented. That means we shall continue to look everywhere to find non-destructive methods of control.

J.F.C. Fuller, the father of mechanized warfare, was an omni-directional thinker and a member of the world of the occult. [EN5]

Be a guerrilla guru: [explore] the occult, the new age, the traditional, eastern philosophy, [and] space age technology.


Jobs in the First Earth are based on capabilities. Sex, age, color, or religious preferences are not considerations. Culture has, however, programmed men and women so that they feel pressure to relate to each other sexually. This sexual protocol can be overcome by a series of extended exercises requiring the absolute interdependence of all participants until a level is trust is developed that supercedes and rises above any kind of sexual relationship. Fortunately love is still the by-product.


The President just needs a wider range of options to respond to the 1980s. Force as a concept has lost much of its legitimacy. The time has come to take the lead in solving the problems of tomorrow.

The First Earth Battalion [Missions]

* Force of heart
* Force of will
* Force of arms
* Force of spirit
* Eco pioneers
* Urban pioneers
* Space pioneers
* Human disaster rescue group
* Eco disaster rescue group
* Natural disaster rescue group

The Star [Headquarters]

* Sensing [Intelligence -- S-2]
* People [Personnel -- S-1]
* Design [Operations and Training -- S-3]
* Signals [Communications and Public Affairs]
* Support [Logistics -- S-4]

[Task organization]

Headquarters = Star

Counter-force company: Arms, Heart, Will, Spirit

Pioneer company: Space pioneer, Eco pioneers, Urban pioneers

Rescue company: Natural disaster, Eco disaster, Human disaster


Soldiers are in the business of life and death. As a leader during war, I must know that if my soldiers are to die… that it's for the right reasons. When at peace they deserve nothing less than a chance of personal evolution.

Soldiers can be a real part of the evolution of this Earth. Anything less… is just something less.


In the martial arts, one learns a number of possible countermoves against different types of possible enemies. These practice battles are done over and over until they become instinct. Likewise in the Earth Battalion all plausible engagements are war-gamed until each soldier has the routine cold. In this way the battalion can operate in the absence of commands from its leaders, who may be out of touch, because of the new realities of modern warfare.

[A chart compares "martial art stances" (e.g., prepare left, block left, en garde, prepare right) to a flowchart reading:]

If you are overrun -- move to the nearest road junction, take control of the buildings, wait for his towed artillery, destroy all you can… till you have lost an offensive punch, then exfiltrate [sneak out] or surrender to save life.


All warrior monks, but an interdependence of New Age skills as well.

[The graphic shows the following skills, all emanating from a central Spirit Wizard]

* Spirit wizard
* Meditation leader
* Martial arts wizard
* Nutritionist herbalist
* Vexillographer (flags and banners)
* Cinematographer
* Old tapes
* Holographer
* Printer
* Minstrels
* Video technoid
* Satellite technoid
* Laser technoid
* General systems theorist
* Physicist
* Futurist
* Builder
* Conservationist
* Indian tracker [sic]


Using traditional and New Age ideas:

* Rise
* Yogic cat stretch
* Primal scream and leap
* Belgian waffle
* Ginseng tab regulator
* Speed [ amphetamines] or morning thunder tea [EN6]
* Karate kata
* Primal low frequency lights
* Paced primal rock [music] in our ears
* Discordant sounds for them [the enemy]
* Advance


Just like many systems… when a nation or government becomes old, it is so full of its ideas [that] it has no room for new ones. Well, there are New Age ideas with great power for the first body that decides to systematically use them.


[The accompanying illustration shows a rucksack containing body vest music (e.g., a Walkman®), night vision foodstuffs, natural foods, dried munchie packs, divining tools (divining rods had been used in Vietnam to find Viet Cong tunnels with at least as much success as CIA sonar systems), and ginseng regulators.]


The American Indian revealed himself as an individual by his distinctive ornamentation. His shield in some cases was more complete as a representation of his skills and predisposition than the modern soldier's personnel file.

Earth Battalion soldiers will be encouraged to represent themselves well in their dress, and wear a twelve-pointed star with each axis clipped to reveal a dimension on a standard personality inventory test. [EN7]


Recently a world class health expert revealed his formula for being perfectly fit. At the heart of good health, he chose a positive mental attitude. Next in importance was aerobic exercise to get oxygen spread throughout the body. Finally he broke down foods into the following priority:

1. Nuts/seeds/grains
2. Vegetables (raw)
3. Fruit

Then the others -- way down the list.


Precision delivery [of artillery fires] is a function of clear and calm calculations. The battalion Tactical Operations Center will employ every New Age centering tool to ensure our fire coordinators do their job of neutralization surgically.

[Equipment shown for this New Age Tactical Operations Center included:]

* Samadi tank for command decisions. [Samadi tanks are isolation tanks said to provide "an ideal environment for relaxation and stress reduction, meditation, and the exploration of consciousness." Above the door is a sign reading: "Centering with mentations prior to entering."]
* Neutralization oriented electronic map display. [This was similar to what was already becoming standard in naval Combat Information Centers.]
* Ergonomic settings [as opposed to the traditional field table, tent or tracked vehicle, and plywood map board].

[While working, the staff updated their map display while taking a] Trip through bamboo sounds.


With the advent of electronic display many variations of maps are possible on the same surface. Some ideas for the modern battlefield are:

1. Relief for direct-fire weapons.
2. Patterns to show gas or smoke coverage.
3. Building relief for MOUT (military operations in urbanized terrain).
4. Strip maps for road movement.


See how abstract our current symbols are. They clutter the map with Order of Battle [3rd Battalion, 37th Infantry (Mechanized)] and lack a great deal of important targeting data [such as effective strength].

[On a First Earth Battalion map display:]

1. Tank units look like tanks.
2. Larger units mean larger symbols.
3. If they [tank units] are moving, the road wheels ***pulse***.
4. If you need their state of vulnerability press the top of the symbol. (These two units are under the cover of smoke.)
5. If you need their projected power, press the front of the weapon (the mobility and range of this weapons system).
6. If you need their potential [power], press the back of the symbol (unit strength, POL [petroleum, oil, and lubricants], ammo, morale, etc. are presented in a series of scalar dimensions).
7. If you must have the Order of Battle [3rd Battalion, 37th Infantry (Mechanized)], then press the bottom of the symbol.



Seek your own personal path to God

Actively improve your physical condition.

Master mental self control for combat.

Understand others.

Reinforce team interdependence.

Actively serve people and planet.

Indulge in happiness and humor.


They parachuted in that morning and stood in a long line facing each opposing army. The Earth Battalion satellite above beamed this image to the globe. The Earth watched as this potential catastrophe awaited the conscience of one of the two [rival] army leaders to set. For they would have to bloody the Earth Battalion people in their path before they could attack -- and the world would know.


The Universe yields wonderful energies for those who rise above physical mechanics. The Earth Battalion will practice non-denominational techniques for spiritual bonding.

It is our right and they [non-denominational meditation techniques] shall make us stronger.


When our Earth Battalion people become families and we hope they will, they will then leave the attack battalions and go to the nuclear release sites of each nation with a nuclear strike capability. In this way they will be a clear and present reminder of what exists at the other end of a button. [The accompanying illustration shows families living in tents in the middle of a desert.]


Mother Earth… my life support system… as a soldier… I must drink your blue water… live inside your red clay and eat your green skin.

I pray… my boots will always kiss your face and my footsteps match your heartbeat.

Carry my body through space and time… you are my connection to the Universe… and all that comes after.

I am yours and you are mine.

I salute you.


A primary function of the First Earth is to communicate ideas. Set up a network of information within your army and with friends in any army. Soon continental coordination will emerge and then we will consider communications media other than the mail and telephone.

Let this battalion grow wherever there is interest.


Natural technologies for the soldier

Subject area Technology
Physical preparation Mongolian massage (Katonning); professional football players now adopting yoga in exercises
Sensory alertness during combat Energy awareness technology based on aikido ala [George] Leonard
Weapons effectiveness during combat Hypnotherapy -- ala J. Bartell's world's best combat shooters using hypnosis technology
Combat first aid without medicine or equipment Shiatsu -- acupressure and similar technologies based on known energy points on the body and hypnotherapy
Hand to hand combat Understanding bodily weak points can either heal a friendly or hurt an enemy; tai chi chuan by a master [EN8]
Movement to contact Two squads at rest, one squad alert… using herb teas and other meditation technology
Intelligent initiative Preprogrammed responses for combat contingencies using karate kata to embody knowledge
Training effectiveness Take a suggestibility test to determine primary learning style for each soldier. It's highly likely that all directed instruction now given violates the basic suggestibility of the modern volunteer.
Diet Entire medical profession moving to health foods -- our soldiers can eat junk food!? [EN9]
Organizational structures Teams are cohesive with around eight people… organizations should adopt the operational style of the network… the most resilient and effective information processor.
Values When Army missions are aligned with the values of youth we won't be able to keep them [youth] away.

* Urban pioneers
* Counter hostage force
* Disaster rescue
* Eco pioneers
* Animal rescue

(See Earth Battalion Organization)
Organizational focus The silent circle and the spirit shoot.
Conference order & decision making Indian kiva technology

The protocol of attention
The Tactical Operations Center A cerebral environment maintained by several stress reduction technologies

1. Breathing (Law of the Octave)
2. Mentations (Relaxation response)
3. Music 'n lights
4. Samadi tank
5. Intelligent displays

Tactical communications The battle forms pictures, not numbers and words. Symbol compression technology is necessary for a facsimile system.
Fire control precision Intelligent display language not only reports on pairings but also suggests the most effective future use of response weapons (the secret here is the breadth of the syntax not the mass of the alpha-numerics.)
Psychotronics The conscious application of assonant and dissonant sound to achieve a physical response (both audible and hypersonic) e.g. all vehicles will use loudspeakers in the attack and play acid rock… out of synch. Meanwhile inside our armored personnel carriers is rhythmic positive pulsing organizing music. Subsonic frequencies bombard the enemy, bringing their intelligence down.
Master strategies The evolution of mind as developed into an art by Gurdjieff-Khaso-Harvey-Bandler-Grinder etc. (Most Western minds are linear and predictable strategists.) Holographic Intelligence. Pribram -- Burns -- Claus -- Channon
Spiritual zeal When military tasks are aligned with spiritual commitment the [military] machine runs by itself!

EDITOR'S NOTES (hit your back button to return to the text)

EN1. Marcello Truzzi, "China's Psychic Savants," Omni, January 1985.

EN2. Jim Schnabel, Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America's Psychic Spies (New York: Dell, 1997).

EN3. See, for example, John Alexander, Future War: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-first Century Warfare(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999). Alexander's other publications include "The New Mental Battlefield" in Military Review (December 1980).

EN4. Richard Strozzi Heckler, In Search of Warrior Spirit (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Press, 2nd edition, 1992).

EN5. Maj.-Gen. J.F.C. Fuller, one of the pioneers of mechanized warfare and a noted military historian, was also interested in astrology and the writings of the occultist Aleister Crowley.

EN6. As early as 1883 the Bavarian Army experimented with issuing cocaine to its soldiers during their annual maneuvers. Subsequent researches into chemically-enhanced militaries resulted in the introduction of amphetamine powders in 1927 (the mostly African American drivers of the Red Ball Express were the best-known US users of World War II), the creation of anabolic steroids in 1958, and the integration of psychotropic drug research with virtual reality computer research in 1991.

EN7. As a counterpoint, some recent evidence suggests that standard personality inventory tests tend to favor white, middle-class values, frequently discriminate against minorities, and reveal little more than the test-taker's skill at taking standard personality inventory tests.

EN8. The well-known martial arts writer Robert W. Smith was approached regarding this project, and in a letter to the editor, he said, "I said this is BS, include me out. Really. This was a time of big military budgets and when they were trying to replace guns with ESP, etc. CIA at same time were trying to get Uri Geller, et al., to visualize Soviet missile sites." For details of CIA involvement with Geller, see Schnabel, 1997, 129-140, 278-280.

EN9. Indeed, in a field environment US soldiers are issued food loaded with fats, sugar, and various chemical additives.

JNC Feb 2000
Anonymous Coward
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Re: The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats
I sure miss the old GLP

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Re: The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats
I sure miss the old GLP

 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 80399603

You know what that means
Anonymous Coward
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Re: The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats
They have a website I'm just too lazy to bring it up.

Jim Cannon..
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Re: The First Earth Battalion: The Men who Stare at Goats
They have a website I'm just too lazy to bring it up.

Jim Cannon..
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 79818904