Skip Atwater
Origins of the Ft. Meade RV Program

by Dick Allgire

I told Skip Atwater I was preparing an article about him and wanted information regarding his involvement in the early days of the Ft. Meade remote viewing program. By way of answer he sent excerpts from his book, “Captain of My Ship.” This is a good description of how the creation of the Army’s Ft. Meade program unfolded.

It was the day and age of OPSEC—Operations Security—when commanders were expected to do more than just safeguard their classified material. Due to the increased sophistication of intelligence collection methods, military commanders were required to take measures to protect all critical aspects of their operational capabilities.

An inspection by a Sensitive Activity Vulnerability Estimate “SAVE” Team was the ultimate survey of a command’s OPSEC status. Once a verifiable threat (a proven hostile-intelligence effort against an installation or organization) was identified, a SAVE Team targeted the installation or organization using sophisticated US intelligence assets, thereby testing the vulnerability of the surveyed facility to hostile intelligence methods. The entire array of photo intelligence (PHOTINT), signal intelligence (SIGINT), and human intelligence (HUMINT) was employed against a designated Army facility or command to give a complete OPSEC profile.

Captain AtwaterOne day my boss, Major Keenan, ceremoniously told me that it was about time that I got my own desk. The open floor space in this area of the building had been divided into individual work areas or cubicles with movable partitions. He walked me over to a cubicle with a typical gray office desk, a safe, a typewriter (this was in the days before office workers had desktop computers.), and a couple of chairs. Keenan said that this had been Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko’s desk back in the days when the unit worked directly for General Thompson, the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI), and I would need to clean it out and make it my own.

This gesture, giving me my own workspace, was symbolic of my acceptance within the office. Keenan could have found me unsuitable for the SED job and had me reassigned elsewhere with INSCOM. The SED personnel were an elite assemblage of Army intelligence professionals and I had been accepted by them in less than a month.

The Discovery

I looked through the drawers of the desk in my new work area and found old pens and pencils, rubber stamps for marking classified documents, dated memos, old notebooks, and assorted leftover paraphernalia.

Next, I turned my attention to the safe and began to look through the drawers. As I pulled open each heavy drawer I found empty folders and file hangers. The file folders were still labeled and marked with security classifications but the documents they once contained, Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko’s work, had since been moved or destroyed. Four essentially empty drawers until I came to the fifth—the bottom drawer.

There, in the bottom drawer, were three Department of Defense classified documents. Two of the reports detailed various aspects of Soviet interest in parapsychology and the third was about remote viewing at SRI-International.

The two classified documents about Soviet parapsychology came from the Medical Intelligence Office of the Army Surgeon General. Apparently, in the early 1970's somebody considered the Office of the Surgeon General a competent authority in the area of parapsychology and assigned their intelligence resources as the lead agency on this issue.

One of the classified documents was published in 1972 and was called Controlled Offensive Behavior - USSR. The document focused on the concept that the Soviets were interested in modifying human behavior through the use of telepathy or telekinesis.

What got my attention was that document said that parapsychology research in the Soviet Union was probably being conducted at more that twenty separate institutions with an operating budget of more that twenty-one million dollars per year.

In 1972, twenty-one million dollars was a lot of money and the principle source of their funding was from the KGB, what was then the Soviet equivalent of our CIA. If the Soviet KGB was spending this kind of cash, they were either being very foolish or they were having some promising results from their research efforts.

The other classified document from the same Medical Intelligence Office, published in 1975, detailed Soviet and Czechoslovakian parapsychology research. The report was divided into two sections. The Bioinformation section concerned things like telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance (all of which sounded a lot like remote viewing to me). The Bioenergetics section talked about psychokinesis and telekinesis.

The third classified document from the safe drawer was called Project SCANATE. It told about classified US Government remote-viewing research, conducted mostly by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California. This convincing report demonstrated the ability of remote viewing surveillance to acquire and report information of interest to the intelligence community.

I told Major Keenan that I had found three classified documents in the safe in my cubicle and described their subject matter. He said that Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko had been looking into remote viewing for General Thompson. Keenan said that General Thompson thought that there might be something to this phenomenon of remote viewing and took the subject quite seriously.

Keenan asked if I knew anything about remote viewing and I told him that I did. He instructed me to keep the documents in my safe since I was familiar with the concept. He also told me that Staff Sergeant Riley, a photo interpreter assigned to SED, had an interest in this area as well. I had met Sergeant Riley before, but until this moment didn't know of his interest in remote viewing. Riley impressed me as a professional soldier who was an expert in his field and who took great pride in his accomplishments.

Skip Atwater
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