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 adversaries. 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. (Channon has also told a slightly different version of this story which takes place during a meeting of the "think tank" Task Force Delta, which first convened in 1983 and occurred at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.)
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.
- Channon, Jim (November 2, 2009). "Jim Channon". The Guardian. London.
- Ronson, Jon (2004), The Men Who Stare at Goats; Simon & Schuster.
- Ronson indicates that Channon's pursuit of New Age wisdom was part of his official Army duties. But in a 2009 interview, Channon described it as more of a personal hobby: "...so I just made it my weekend duty to get around to all of these places like Eslan and other places, make friends and find out what this esoteric technology really was...." From Goats Declassified: The Real Men of the First Earth Battalion (2009), Anchor Bay Entertainment, LLC [Producer/writer: Rene Smallwood]; featurette released with the 2009 DVD release of the Men Who Stare at Goats film.
- Ronson, Op. cit., pg 49.
- Channon: "...at the think tank Task Force Delta... they stood me to attention, they stood the room to attention, and read me the orders — official Army orders — as the commander of the First Earth Battalion, to go forward from that day on and think the unthinkable..." From the Goats Declassified interview (2009).
- "THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS GOES GREEN". CNN. October 8, 1990.
- Rose, Frank (October 8, 1990). "A NEW AGE FOR BUSINESS?". CNN.
- "http://www.wie.org/j32/first-earth.asp". Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. External link in
- 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.