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Skip Atwater
Origins of the Ft. Meade RV Program

The Request

The US Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama had formally requested OPSEC support, and several members of SED were selected to go to Alabama to answer their request. Since I was the junior officer in the unit, it was decided that this would be a good opportunity for me to learn, hands-on, about OPSEC support. I was invited go along to observe and play a small role.

The Missile Command was concerned about security because much of their testing involved ground-to-air missile telemetry, the radio signals that guide a ground-fired missile to an airborne target. They wanted to know the actual hostile-intelligence threat posed and what OPSEC measures should be taken to counter this threat.

Much of the data supporting our recommendations was assembled prior to visiting Redstone Arsenal. The on-site visit to the Missile Command was to better understand ground operations, interview personnel about security procedures, and occasionally challenge those security procedures.

For example, if we were told during the official tour inspection that only personnel wearing a certain type of security badge could enter into an area, we might come back (uninvited) that night or the next day and see if we could penetrate their security without a badge or with an obviously bogus one.

When we completed the on-site phase of the survey, we sat down to provide the command with an exit briefing (to be followed later by a formal written report). I sat quietly as the senior members of our SED entourage talked of the threat posed by Soviet satellites, which passed over Redstone Arsenal at regular intervals. The OPSEC solution was to schedule critical telemetry tests during periods of time when the satellites were in orbit over a different part of the planet.

We also discussed the threat posed by Soviet ships in the Gulf of Mexico that could intercept telemetry signals. We told them that the Missile Command’s OPSEC Office could be provided with information about Soviet ships and which ones were known hostile-intelligence assets.

Human agents presented an additional threat, because Redstone Arsenal offered a NASA display for tourists. We informed the Missile Command that US Immigration could provide the declared travel plans of foreign visitors. By matching this information with a list of names provided by classified sources of known hostile-intelligence agents, their OPSEC Officer could develop a system to alert personnel when known hostile agents were in the immediate area.

The exit briefing contained many more details and several suggestions for OPSEC, counterintelligence, and physical security measures common to nearly every survey.

Just before we all got up from the conference table, one of the Project Managers sitting directly across from me said, “I appreciate all that you have told us, but how are we supposed to protect ourselves from this?” He pulled a book out of his briefcase and slid it across the table to me. I reached out for the book, wondering what he could be asking about. It was MIND-REACH!

As I held the book in my hand staring at the title, the Missile Command OPSEC Officer at the head of the table abruptly asked, “What’s this all about?” The Project Manager had surprised him and I could tell from the sound of his voice that he was befuddled.

A hush fell over the room; I turned to address the OPSEC Officer’s question and spoke slowly and deliberately, the words coming from somewhere deep inside me, “He is worried about the threat posed by remote viewing, a human perceptual ability being investigated under classified government contracts at the prestigious Stanford Research Institute. He wants to know what OPSEC measures we recommend to counter this threat. This subject is beyond the scope of this survey and todays briefing. I will have to get back to you later on this, sir.”

For those few brief moments I commanded the attention of everyone in the room. I handed the book back to the Project Manager and he put it back in his briefcase. I glanced over to the SED team leader and nodded. “Well,” he said as he turned to the OPSEC Officer and offered a departing handshake, “I guess we'll be in touch with you later.”

Dumbfounded, the OPSEC Officer smiled and thanked us for our time and effort. We departed Redstone Arsenal without any further mention of remote viewing or the curious incident during the exit briefing.

I didn't want to offend the senior member of the SED team that had gone to Alabama by going over his head, so I first asked him if I should tell Major Keenan about the remote-viewing question that had come up in the exit briefing. He told me he was glad to have me do it because he didn't know what to say.

The following week I asked for a meeting with Keenan to tell him about the exit briefing at Redstone Arsenal. Since Keenan was familiar with the secret remote-viewing documents that I held in my safe, I felt comfortable bringing up the subject with him.

I had been in Major Keenan’s office before and his desk abutted a small conference table so that he could have several staff in his office at the same time. As I entered his office carrying an armful of documents and a yellow legal pad he said cordially, “What can I do for you Lieutenant?” I set the papers on the small conference table and began to explain that during the exit briefing at Redstone Arsenal an unusual OPSEC request was made.

Keenan invited me to sit down and tell him more. And, rather than sitting behind his desk, he joined me at the conference table. This gesture indicated a willingness to talk as peers. Had he gone around behind his desk as “the boss,” the discussion that followed might have had a different flavor altogether.

I started off slowly, explaining how well things had gone in Alabama and that I was sure the US Army Missile Command would be very appreciative of INSCOM and the efforts of SED. I also thanked him for sending me along so that I could learn the “how to” of OPSEC support provided by SED. I casually told him that at the end of the exit briefing one of the Project Managers had asked for OPSEC recommendations to protect themselves from hostile surveillance by remote viewing.

As I was talking I leafed through the documents I had set on the small conference table, and with perfect timing, just as I finished speaking, I fanned out the secret remote-viewing documents from my safe on the table in front of us.

“What did you tell him?” asked Major Keenan as he glanced at the documents (“evidence”) on the table before him. I explained that I told the Missile Command OPSEC Officer that the concerns of his Project Manager about remote viewing were genuine but that his query was beyond the scope of the present survey.

“Good,” said Keenan, “But how are you going to answer his question, Lieutenant?”

“Yes Sir,” I said, “I know his question needs to be answered and that’s why I asked to meet with you.”

Skip Atwater
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