Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, Sept 2001

The Hollywood Roots of the First Earth Battalion

By Remy Chevalier

Copyright © 2001 Remy Chevalier. All rights reserved.

Jim Channonís First Earth Battalion (James B. Channon, The First Earth Battalion: Ideas and Ideals for Soldiers Everywhere [Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1979]; reprinted at never became operational. It was just a concept. He got the idea (from me, but weíll get into that further down) for it while stationed in Hollywood as the Army liaison in charge of providing movie studios assistance and equipment on shows like M*A*S*H. At the time EST, Werner Erhardís Gurdjieffian-inspired way of finding "it" by keeping an audience secluded in the same room for sixteen hours while submitting it to verbal abuse, was in full swing, and very popular with the Beverly Hills elite. Jim attended a few meetings and realized how close EST training was to boot camp, and so he shot a video presentation to promote the concept of the First Earth Battalion which was produced with the help of the Arica Institute. Thatís about as far as it got: Carter didnít get re-elected, the moral equivalent of war was quickly forgotten, and Jimís video has been sitting on a shelf at West Point ever since which is where I finally saw it.

Later I tried to revive First Earth Battalion as a movie. Jim had written a synopsis for a screenplay called "Tripwire" that I pitched at the Fairfield County Film & Video Council, a group I helped create by doing all the legwork. I was packing the Westport Arts Center with 200 local professionals every month. But the directors of the council were just using me as fodder to further their own careers. I quit and without my participation attendance fell to a dozen people. Not too long after that CBS Paramount announced it was starting to shoot a new TV series in Australia called "The Green Machine." The military took offense at the title because thatís slang for the Army, so CBS changed it to Earth Force. It starred Gil Gerard who by then was overweight and an admitted bulimic. CBS bought themselves an Environmental Media Award to promote the show, but it was so bad they had to pull the plug on it after only three episodes.

Needless to say had CBS not ripped us off, and kept Jim and me on as advisors, the show could have been a hit by avoiding all the pitfalls they fell into by being totally ignorant of the real issues. But thatís the way Tinsel Town does business.

After that, Jim moved to Hawaii and pretty much shelved the whole idea. Sure, he still has his Hawaiian group of internationalists, but donít confuse the First Earth Battalion with Jimís own circle of friends. The original basis for the First Earth Battalion developed a life of its own. Today countries all over the world use their armed forces to tackle environmental problems in peacetime operations. First Earth Battalion was conceived at a time when the Army Corps of Engineers was trashing America. But Abbie Hoffman as Barry Freed changed all that when he received his award from Senator Moynahan for saving the St. Laurence River from the massive damage the Corps of Engineering was aiming to do. The Corps later did a 180-degree turn and is now pretty much doing all the things we were advocating in terms of restoration and stewardship.

As for my part in this? I lived in Los Angeles between 1974 and 1976. One day I was just walking around and I saw the Army had an office. So I went inside and talked to a guy with a mustache about how the Army could help save the planet! That guy was Jim. I was Black Sabbathís biggest fan, and they were my sound track. Thatís how Jim got the idea for the First Earth Battalion tanks to blast Sabbathís music through speakers! It was a perversion of my original intent, but hey, who has the gold makes the rules.

If you want to see a picture of the artwork I commissioned when I was still trying to make it into a film, click:

Youíll be able to see where I put the FEB logo on the belt buckle.

For Further Reading

Dare, Michael. "Thus Spake Lennon," LA Weekly, August 7-12, 1998,

Video of Channon may be purchased via links at

JNC Sept 2001