“The Men Who Stare At Goats” Is from the bestselling author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. This is a look at the real men and real events that inspired the book and film.
In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice — and indeed, the laws of physics — they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.
Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting the War on Terror.
With firsthand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades and shows how they are alive today within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in postwar Iraq. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners of war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 debilitated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces Command Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the U.S. military associated with the mysterious mass suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare at Goats answers these and many more questions.
The First Earth Battalion: Dare to Think the Unthinkable, Ideas and Ideals for Soldiers Everywhere
Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, February 2000
By Jim Channon
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. 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.
Officers assigned to the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania [http://carlisle-www.army.mil/library/ris.htm] 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. 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.
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.
TASK FORCE DELTA — CONCEPT PAPER: https://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_channon_0200.htm
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