James B. Channon (born ca. 1940) — known as Jim Channon — is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, New Age futurologist, and business consultant. He is primarily known for authoring the First Earth Battalion Operations Manual (1979, and later editions), a popular book pointing the way toward a New Age transformation in the U.S. military. Heavy on graphics, it was partly inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog counterculture magazine.
Channon served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer from 1962 to 1982 and had two tours in Vietnam (1965–66 and 1970–71). His work and philosophy during his last years on active duty were documented by journalist Jon Ronson in his 2004 book The Men Who Stare at Goats. According to Ronson's book, Channon spent time between 1977 and 1979 with many of the people in California credited with starting the human potential movement — such as the Esalen Institute — and in 1979 wrote a 125 page "operations manual" for a proposed "First Earth Battalion". His concept was that a new generation of "warrior monks" would utilize paranormal abilities and counterculture principles to better prevail in future conflicts with the nation's adverseries. At a subsequent 1979 briefing at the Fort Knox, Kentucky, officer's club, Channon presented his concepts to "commanders", who (he claims) immediately made him the first commander of the First Earth Battalion.
After retiring from the Army, Channon continued to promote his concepts and worked as an "organizational transformation consultant" to such companies as AT&T, Du Pont, and Whirlpool. In 1990, he was featured in Fortune magazine as the business world's first corporate shaman. He was described as specializing in "helping managers express their vision by creating a picture that makes corporate goals tangible against a starry universe or earthscape background. But at heart he sees himself as a shaman." He was featured in Omni and other magazine/websites as the founder of the Army’s First Earth Battalion.
In a 2004 video interview with Ronson, Channon said that he was still consulted by "top brass" ("like the Chief of Staff of the Army") and was still officially the commander of the First Earth Battalion.
Channon lives in Hawaii.
In popular culture
- Channon, Jim (November 2, 2009). "Jim Channon". The Guardian (London).
- Ronson, Jon (2004), The Men Who Stare at Goats; Simon & Schuster.
- Ronson, Op. cit., pg 49.
- "http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1990/10/08/74155/index.htm". CNN. October 8, 1990.
- Rose, Frank (October 8, 1990). "http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1990/10/08/74156/index.htm". CNN.
- Jon Ronson's Crazy Rulers of the World, Part I: "The Men Who Stare at Goats" (2004); BBC documentary (available on YouTube). In Ronson's book (pg 162), it is disclosed that Channon followed up this interview with a claim that he was consulting with the then new Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Peter Schoomaker. He vigorously implored Ronson, however, to not try to confirm this with the general so as not to waste the important man's time.