Monday, 6 February 2017

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 9


Previously, in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, I looked at the US military’s OPREP–3 reporting system, and, in particular, its use in alerting top–echelon military commands of serious UFO incidents. In 1975, and again in 1978, the OPREP–3 system was used to convey urgent and current information regarding perceived UFO activity near sensitive US military installations. In Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 of this series, I moved away from the raw reporting of UFOs, and began to discuss the US government’s response, concern, evaluation and investigation of these well–documented, intrusive aerial events, which were to become known as the “1970’s over flights”, or variations of that apt title. Through the release of hundreds of pages of records, via the utilisation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), researchers could piece together a chronological narrative of UFO detection, reporting, response and investigation. It was the efforts of Robert Todd, Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett and Todd Zechel, and a few others, which saw government agencies, especially military commands, release such records. 

In Part 8, I discussed both the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and the old Aerospace Defence Command’s (ADCOM) role in, and response to, the “over flights”, especially the events of October and November, 1975. Specifically, I laid out NORAD and ADCOM’s handling of FOI requests, which demonstrated clear inconsistencies, and possibly deceitful conduct. More importantly, I presented the comparatively few NORAD and ADCOM documents that were releasable, including so-called “Command Directors Logs” and “Senior Command Directors Logs”. I also laid out a handful of misleading statements made by NORAD regarding UFO’s generally. Finally, it should be known that I will be discussing NORAD and ADCOM’s involvement in the “over flights” at greater length in my ongoing series titled “NORAD and the UFO Smokescreen”. In this edition of my series, I will present more NORAD and ADCOM correspondence, including FOI action, plus further declassified records, all of which are critical in assessing how these two massive organisations dealt with the both the UFO events themselves, and the fallout that occurred later.

Briefly, NORAD was, and still is, a bi–national, United States–Canadian military organisation charged with aerospace warning and aerospace control over North America. Its mission includes aircraft detection and monitoring, airspace management and defensive air sovereignty. ADCOM, which was inactivated in 1986, was a major command (MAJCOM) of the USAF, and was tasked with tactically defending the just continental USA only. As I have outlined previously, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, NORAD’s air sovereignty responsibilities were divided into a number of geographical “NORAD Regions”, often shortened to “NR”. Likewise, ADCOM’s air defence mission was similarly divided into distinct “Air Divisions”, frequently notated simply as “AD”.

I finished Part 8 of this series discussing various records held, and released, by NORAD’s Combat Operations Center (NCOC), as well as the 23rd and 24th NORAD Regions and equivalent ADCOM Air Divisions. Researchers continued, as the end of 1977 neared, submitting FOI requests, as well as general correspondence letters, to other regional headquarters, and even individual bases23rd. On the 13th of October, 1977, researcher Robert Todd sent an FOI request to the 22nd NORAD Region (22NR) at Canadian Forces Base North Bay, in Ontario. His request stated, in part:

“It is respectfully requested that the 22nd NORAD Region Senior Command Director’s Log for 15 October through 15th November 1975 be searched for any and all entries pertaining to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or unidentified flight activity, and that copies of all such entries found be supplied.

It is also requested that copies be supplied of any log entries or any other documents in the possession of the 22nd NORAD Region which pertain to the attempted interception of a UFO (or UFOs) over Sudbury, Canada, on or about 11 October 1975.”

Evidently, Todd had noted from previous FOI action that the 22nd NR had dealt with UFO activity during November, 1975, and there were in fact a number of documents which were responsive to Todd’s FOI request. Unfortunately, these records were not released until years later, as we shall see. I have imaged Todd’s FOI request below.

On the 21st of October, 1977, Maj. Gen. J. E. Henna, Commander of the 22nd NR, came back to Todd, stating:

“Your letter dated 13 October, 1977, addressed to 22nd NORAD Region, Canadian Forces Base North Bay, has been referred to my office for reply.

As you will appreciate, 22nd NORAD Region Headquarters is located in Canada and the Freedom of Information Act to which you refer is not in force and effect in Canada. The entries in the 22nd NORAD Region Senior Directors Log and related documents are classified material and, as a matter of policy, Canadian authorities do not release such information to the public. Accordingly, I cannot comply with your request for transcripts of log entries.

I regret that I am unable to be of assistance to you in this matter.”

The FOI Act was, and still is, only applicable to American government agencies, so the response given by Maj. Gen. Henna’s letter was accurate. Maj. Gen. Henna’s reply letter is imaged below.

The 22nd NORAD Region must have been relieved. As stated above, there were specific records responsive to Todd’s FOI request, and releasing them in 1977 would have significantly added to the growing pile of 1975 “over flight” material. Years later, the Canadian National Archives released a series of outgoing telexes which were sent from both Canadian Forces Station, Falconbridge and the 22nd NR Headquarters at North Bay, on the 11th and 12th of November, 1975. The destination of these telexes was the National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa. Also, several pages of the 22nd NR Air Traffic Control log book for the 11th and 12th of November, 1975 were declassified and released to Canadian researcher Palmiro Campagna in 1995 under Canada’s Access to Information Act (AIA).

To elaborate, during the evening of the 11th of November, 1975, Canadian Forces officers visually witnessed two unidentified objects, and at least one of them was seemingly imaged on primary radar. At 12:30Z, a telex was sent from the 22nd NR Headquarters to the NDHQ regarding the event. The descriptive body of the message dryly states:


Hours later, at 16:30Z, another telex was sent to the NDHQ, only this time it was sent from Falconbridge CFS.  The main body of the message states:


             The 22nd NORAD Region Air Traffic Control log book for mid-November, 1975, sheds further light on the events. Originally classified SECRET, it is held at the Canadian National Archives as part of the file collection RG24-G-10-7, Volume/box number: 23314 under File 22NR-2075-5-Part 1, 1975/11-1979/08. The log book contains chronologically ordered entries which discuss UFO’s over Ontario from the evening of the 11th of November well into the 12th. As with the above highlighted telex messages, I will not here give a full account of the apparent UFO events as they appear in the log book. Doing so would go somewhat beyond the purposes of this blog series and would be better handled in future works. Briefly, however, the 22nd NR Air Traffic Control team at North Bay recorded that both local police around Sudbury, and nearby Falconbridge AFS, were reporting varying and unusual aerial activity, including a report from Falconbridge stating that one UFO was of “…brilliant color – like looking at a large gem with colored lights all around it”. Another entry states “…they observed the closest object through binoculars and object was rising vertically at tremendous speed…”. Further, the log details Falconbridge’s apparent radar confirmation as “…they had it on HT [Height] Finder at two cuts of 44,000’ and again at 72,000’ – object circular – well lighted and had what appeared as two black spots in the center.”. Finally, it is stated that a pair of F-106 combat jets from Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, were vectored in to identify the possible intruders, but found nothing. Apparently, however, the combat jets were at an insufficient altitude to make contact.

            Moving on from the 22nd NORAD Region, on the 7th of March, 1978, Robert Todd sent an FOI request to the 21st NORAD Region (21st NR) for copies of a new type of document previously unknown to researchers. As it happened, all NORAD Region’s maintained dozens of operational “checklists” which were used to quickly record day-to-day occurrences and events. Todd only discovered the existence of these kinds of records during previous FOI correspondence with the 20th NORAD Region (20th NR), and he was probably lucky to do so. The checklist piquing Todd’s interest was titled “Unknown Object/Track Reporting Checklist”, and came as an enclosure to a 20th NR regulation titled “20th NORAD Region Regulation, Operations, 55–7 Unknown Track / Unknown Object Reporting”. Todd correctly assumed that if the 20th NR maintained such a regulation, with its associated checklist, then all the NORAD Region’s would be maintaining very similar doctrine. In his FOI request to the 21st NR/DAD, Todd simply asked for completed copies of these records. Presumably, any “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists would contain information about myriad strayed or unresponsive aircraft activity within the 21st NR, and, thus, would not necessarily be what UFO researchers would want. Even so, the title of the checklist did contain the phrase “Unknown Object”, so even amongst the mundane entries, was it possible that unexplained UFO events would be have been recorded.

            ADCOM’s 21st Air Division (21st AD) handled Todd’s request on behalf of the 21st NR. On the 22nd of March, 1978, Brig. Gen. Carl S. Miller sent his reply. A subject line at the top of the letter reads “Request for Copy of Checklists Pertaining to Unknown Object/Track Reporting”. The main body of the Brig. Gen. Miller’s reply goes on to state, in part:

“1. A determination has been that the records requested in your letter of 7 March, 1978 are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.”

Charges of $46.60 were assessed as being reasonable to cover search and reproduction costs. This figure was greatly higher than any other fees charged by NORAD or ADCOM in the past, and would indicate that a very large number of records were responsive to Todd’s FOI request. This was probably because the “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists contained, as I have mentioned, all unidentified aircraft detected by the 21st NR, and, such documentation may have dated back many years before permanent archiving or scheduled destruction. Brig. Gen. Miller’s reply letter is imaged below.

The unexpected costs caused Robert Todd to ask the 21st AD for a fee waiver, which was unsuccessful. Failing that, on the 1st of May, 1978, Todd appealed the case to ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD), Headquarters, Ent AFB. Col. Terrence C. James handled the case, and, on the 16th of June, 1978, he sent Todd a final decision, which reads, in part:

“1. Your letter of 1 May 1978, concerning an appeal for waiver of fees and previous correspondence on the case, was forwarded to this headquarters by 21st Air Division, Hancock Field, New York. After a review of the case, a determination has been made that the checklists, even though you had been previously advised they were releasable, are exempt from mandatory disclosure under 5 USC 552b(2) and Air Force Regulation 12-30, para 10b. Release of these checklists would reveal internal practices and would substantially hinder the effective performance of a significant function of the Air Force.”

Thus, the decision was made to withhold 21st NR “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists. This was a complete turnaround from Brig. Gen. Miller’s letter dated the 22nd March, 1978. The 21st AD was willing to release the records in question, but ADCOM’s Headquarters was not. Obviously, any records that should be withheld on national security grounds should be. So, why the 21st AD’s Brig. Gen. Miller readily offered Robert Todd material that was ostensibly “exempt from mandatory disclosure” is a mystery. Possibly, Brig. Gen. Miller was simply unaware of what should and should not be released. If Todd hadn’t appeal the costs of releasing the records, ADCOM’s Col. James would have been unaware of the situation. It is also possible, especially when one considers prior examples of NORAD and ADCOM’s apparent deceitfulness, that the release of 21st NR “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists would reveal especially unusual aerial events. Considering that hundreds of pages of detailed records, which overtly discussed “UFOs”, “unidentified objects” and “unknown helicopters”, were being released by other commands, there was every chance that the above detailed NORAD checklists were no different. It is also worth mentioning that records, when sensitive, can be released with redactions. Often, only a few passages of text require blacking-out, and the rest becomes releasable. In this case, however, Col. James chose not to offer redacted versions of the records, as usually would be the case. Col. James’s letter is imaged below.

Researchers also submitted FOI requests to individual USAF bases asking for pertinent UFO or “unknown object” records.  On the 7th and 8th of September, 1976, civilians and local Deputy Sheriffs reported unusual aerial activity around over Huron County, Michigan. The sightings were taken seriously by nearby Port Austin Air Force Station, which was assigned to NORAD and ADCOM. Investigative reporter Robert “Bob” Pratt obtained firsthand testimony from witnesses, and then interviewed Port Austin’s NORAD Information Officer, Maj. William Frensley, as we shall see. Based on this information, Robert Todd, on the 4th of November, 1977, asked Port Austin AFS to search their records for anything “relating to unknown objects”. On the 3rd of November, 1977, Col. Kenneth W. Ohlinger sent his reply. Attached was a one page sheet of relevant log extracts titled “UFO Sightings at Port Austin AFS, MI (7 & 8 Sep 1976)”. I have imaged the page below.

With incredibly brief statements, such as “24 Tower notified to help surveillance on UFO”, it is impossible to build a narrative of events. However, once again, “UFO” sightings were being treated seriously. The “SD”, which refers to the Senior Director of either the 23rd Air Division, or, the 23rd NORAD Region, both located at Duluth International Airport, was concerned enough to advise Port Austin AFS to “immediately patch all incoming calls pertaining to UFO sightings to him”. These raw, single line entries do not do the night’s events much justice, but when looked at in conjunction with the information obtained by Bob Pratt, it is obvious that something strange went on. In fact, Pratt had compiled enough firsthand testimony from the area, which included a frank discussion with Maj. Frensley, to run a story in the for the “National Enquirer”. The article appeared on Page 5, on the 9th of November, 1976. With the title “Air Defense Chiefs Admit: We’ve Tracked UFOs on Radar – For a Second Time in Less Than a Year”, the opening sentence reads:

“For the second time in less than a year the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) has admitted to tracking UFOs.”

The article then quotes Maj. Frensley:

“Radar operators of the 754th Radar Squadron at Port Austin Air Force Station in Michigan reported tracking five unknown objects for about 30 minutes early on the morning September 7.”

Further, Maj. Frensley confirmed that two policemen and a civilian were questioned by NORAD regarding their sightings, but, in this case, little action was taken as the events apparently didn’t pose a national security threat. Maj. Frensley stated that:

“Determining whether an unknown object is a threat is based on certain criteria, such as point of origin, direction and speed and a number of other factors I cannot discuss for security reasons.”

One of the witnesses that Bob Pratt tracked down was Carl Baily, a campground manager, who described the objects as being shaped like “batwings”. Further, he stated:

“There were a lot of them. It seemed like a whole fleet. It was amazing. They were moving up and down and left and right, just sort of floating.”

The article goes on to state that Baily, as well two other witnesses, Huron County Sheriffs Deputy’s Greg Gordon and Gary Krug, were connected to the 23rd NORAD Region Headquarters at Duluth, Minnesota to describe what they had seen. This matches the entries found in the above imaged Port Austin AFS logs supplied to Robert Todd on the 3rd of November, 1977. The article goes on to quote Deputy Sheriff Gordon:

“We observed one object that was a very bright light in the sky. It would descend very rapidly, looking as though it was going to land. It would then return to its original height. It moved so quickly it was unbelievable. At one point, one of the objects was over Lake Huron and the next instant it was over the Port Austin Shoes Campground. It moved so quickly our eyes were unable to follow it. At 5 am, two men from the 754th Radar Squadron came out to the scene.”.

The article finishes off establishing that NORAD often questions people who have reported seeing UFO’s. Maj. Frensley is quoted as saying, “We like to talk to as many people as possible to correlate these sightings, if possible, with something like straying aircraft or flares that are dropped.”. Finally, Maj. Frensley admitted “We don’t know what the objects were.”.

In sum, there is no question that NORAD-assigned personnel at Port Austin AFS exhibited enough concern over local UFO sightings to accept calls from witnesses, and subsequently keep in contact as the night went on. The Senior Director, of either the 23rd NORAD Region or the 23rd Air Division, was being updated regarding the situation too. Moreover, if Maj. Frensley’s discussion with Bob Pratt is accurate, there was also primary radar confirmation of “five unknown objects for about 30 minutes” by Port Austin AFS’s 754th Radar Squadron. The above mentioned “National Enquirer” article is imaged below.

In Part 5 of this series I discussed a two-page telex message that summed up NORAD’s awareness of the UFO “over flight” situation as it had played out. NORAD’s Commander–in–Chief (CINCNORAD), based at Ent AFB, Colorado, sent the telex at 21:00Z, on the 11th of November, 1975. The addressees were the Chief of Staff, USAF, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), the Canadian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and the Commander–in–Chief, Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC). The information in the telex summarises the unidentifiable aerial intrusions that had recently occurred over Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, and Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge. The subject line reads “Suspicious Unknown Air Activity”, and, while covering just two printed pages, was originally sent in five parts. Robert Todd first saw a brief reference to the telex message in documents released by the CINCSAC to researcher Barry Greenwood. On the 19th of April, 1980, Todd sent an FOI request to ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD) asking for a copy of the telex, and, “any unidentified aircraft and object over flight documents related to the creation of it”. On the 25th of April, 1980, Col. James Rodeen, ADCOM’s Director of Administration, sent his letter with a copy of the two-page telex. However, in regards to Todd’s enquiry for “…documents related to the creation of it”, Col. Rodeen stated:

“With respect to that portion of your request for ‘related documents’, we are not sure what you want; can you be more specific as to what documents you are interested in? For example, we provided reports of activity at certain bases during the referenced time frame some time ago, in response to FOIA requests from you. Accordingly, your request, as presently worded, simply does not provide a reasonable description of the records you are seeking.

We will await your response before taking any action on the other portion of your request. If you are seeking documents other than reports of activity which have already been released to you and other FOIA requesters, we must advise that a search of records in various offices will be required and may be non-productive. We are unable to provide an estimate of search time until we know what records you want.”.

Simply put, Col. Rodeen is saying that the two-page telex was formulated from raw, incoming information, all of which had already been released to Todd and other researchers. This may well be true. However, Col. Rodeen also states that “…documents other than reports of activity which have already been released…” will require “…a search of records in various offices... …and may be non-productive”. Further enquiries on this particular matter were unproductive, as Todd wasn’t able to be specify the exact types of records that would apply to his enquiry. Col. Rodeen’s reply letter is imaged below.

Although I have presented the above mentioned CINCNORAD telex message in Part 5 of this series, it is worth imaging again once more.

One question which is occasionally raised revolves around the “linking” of so many unsolvable sightings over various far-flung military installations. When dealing with the media, NORAD claimed that the events were seemingly isolated. However, when one reviews the above two-page telex message, it is immediately stated that:


The fact that the five main “over flight” locations are lumped together in the opening passage could indicate that NORAD believed, by the 11th of November, the strange events to be connected. Even the possibility of a connection must have been deliberated. Certainly, the wave of UFO sightings was being taken seriously by NORAD personnel, as they should have, but no solid explanations were being offered. In fact, the CINCNORAD telex message was formulated two weeks since the first “suspicious object” sightings had occurred, so it’s no wonder that there was a desire to “…prevent overreaction by the public”. Furthermore, the claim that NORAD was doing “…everything possible to identify and provide solid factual information on these sightings…” also demonstrates a level of coordinated response. Under some pressure from NORAD, the Secretary of the Air Force’s Office of Information (SAFOI) made a judgement, for want of a better word, regarding whether the sightings were connected, and, formulated a rough guide on how individual commands should handle media enquiries. This information was conveyed in one-page telex message dated the 14th of November, 1975, and originated, specifically, from the Policy Directorate of the SAFOI. The primary addressees were the CINCNORAD at Ent AFB, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC) at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. The Secretary of Defence’s Office of Public Affairs (SECDEF PA) also received a copy. On the 6th of May, 1980, a copy of this telex was released to Robert Todd by Anne Wilkinson, FOI Manager, Headquarters, USAF. It reads:


          Whether the unexplained sightings were connected or not, the SAFOI, as well as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence (OASD), were keen to have local Commanders take a safe approach with the press. The above detailed SAFOI telex is imaged below.

By 1981, NORAD’s Directorate of Administration (NORAD/DAD) could not keep up with the increasing number of FOI requests. It is worth mentioning that Robert Todd, the most consistent and forceful requestor of records, was a member of the civilian research group “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy” (CAUS) even if his correspondence didn’t always mention that fact. Other members included Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett, Brad Sparks, Todd Zechel and Larry Bryant. Combined, these researchers were seeing that NORAD, and to a lesser extent ADCOM, were releasing records six years after the 1975 “over flights” occurred. Sometimes unseen records were still being found and declassified, but often researchers were merely receiving copies of items already released. Either way, something had to be done to stem the tide. On the 1st of October, 1981, Col. James H. Rix, NORAD’s Director of Administration, issued a memorandum to the eight NORAD Regions advising that Robert Todd, and the CAUS group generally, be singled out for stricter FOI Act fee assessing. While there is no question that the number of requests for NORAD records had, thus far, been very frequent and recurrent, it is almost unheard of that one person or group be highlighted in official policy. Carrying the subject line “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Fees Assessment”, Col. Rix’s memorandum reads:

“1. Interim message change 80-1 to AFR 12-30 tells us to automatically waive search and duplication costs for single FOIA requests if those costs total less than #30.00. This change also permits FOIA managers to set aside the automatic waiver provision when, on the basis of good evidence, they can demonstrate that waiver of fees is not in the public interest.

2. Because of cumulative and recurring FOIA requests, we will no longer waive FOIA search and duplication fees, even though they may total less than $30.00, for Mr. Robert Todd, 2528 Belmont Ave, Ardmore, PA and the “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy” (CAUS). Further, we believe it is in the public interest to have Mr. Todd and CAUS pay for records searches even though no responsive records are located.”

3. Accordingly, NORAD Headquarters and NORAD Regions will, upon receipt of a FOIA request for records from Mr. Todd, or the “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy”, advise him or them of estimated search and copying fees and obtain agreement to pay before processing the request. Advise that search fees will be assessed even though no responsive records are located. If Mr. Todd or CAUS appeals fee assessment, forward the request to HQ NORAD/DADF for further processing.”

Col. Rix’s decision took effect immediately. Newly submitted requests, by both Robert Todd and Todd Zechel in November, 1981, were met with assessment fees, no matter how straightforward the record search process was. Likewise, when no records were found, large fees suddenly applied, with some in the many hundreds of dollars. Such costs immediately prohibited all but the most targeted FOI action. There was nothing technically wrong with NORAD’s interpretation of the FOI Act, and, in fact, NORAD had been quite patient with Robert Todd and the CAUS team up until this point. Page 4 of “Air Force Regulation 12-30, Information Management” (AFR 12-30), published on the 5th of September, 1980, in conjunction with amendment 80-1, dated August 12th, 1981, allowed for much stricter application of cost assessments when it could be reasonably shown that “public interest” is not being served. It could easily be argued that frequent and very similar FOI requests, by the same requestors, were not an efficient or fair use of the FOI Act, and, thus, not in the best interests of the tax paying public. Having said that, it could likewise be argued that NORAD, as well as the wider USAF, who researchers were also pummelling with FOI requests, changed their regulations to stop requestors forcing sensitive records being released. The fact that Col. Rix’s 1st of October memorandum specifically mentioned Robert Todd and the CAUS group, could be an indication that NORAD simply couldn’t tolerate the release of further records, especially if such records were more substantive or sensitive than what had already come out. The memorandum in question is imaged below.

As I have demonstrated, NORAD and ADCOM had, by 1981, released a fairly significant quantity of records which directly related to “UFOs” and “unknown objects” over US and Canadian military bases throughout late 1975. Likewise, significant records were regularly withheld. For example, on the 4th of October, 1977, ADCOM’s Director of Administration, Col. Terrence C. James, released a series extracts from the NORAD Combat Operation Center (NCOC) “Command Directors Log”, and the 24th NORAD Region “Senior Directors Log”, to researcher Todd Zechel. The same material had been released previously to Robert Todd on the 26th of August, 1977, and the 15th of September, 1977. There was, however, one difference. In his reply to Zechel, Col. James admitted the existence of one more document, stating:

“2. HQ USAF/DADF also forwarded a copy of a NORAD document for a review for possible downgrade and release.  We have determined the document if properly and currently classified and is exempt from disclosure under Public Law 90-23, 5 USC 552b(1).

3. The decision to withhold release of this document may be appealed un writing to the Secretary of the Air Force within 45 days from the date of this letter. If you appeal, include any reasons for reconsideration you with to present and attach a copy of this letter. Address your letter as follows: Secretary of the Air Force, thru HQ ADCOM/DAD, Peterson AFB CO 80914.”

Evidently, the FOI desk at the USAF’s Directorate of Administration (USAF/DADF) had located a NORAD-generated document which NORAD had failed to previously locate in their own records, or, had not wanted to admit existed. Either way, the document was “properly and currently classified” and was “exempt from disclosure”. Under the FOI Act any decision, by any government agency, to withhold records could be appealed in writing. Zechel lodged an appeal of Col. James’s decision on the 29th of October, 1977, but it was unsuccessful. I have imaged the relevant page below.

             There were occasions where researchers, especially Robert Todd, vented their frustration directly at NORAD and ADCOM. Inconsistent and evasive answers, some of which I have demonstrated at length, were duly noted, and often responded to straight away. One such example is a 29th of April, 1978 reply letter to Maj. Donald B. Stephens, Chief of NORAD’s Community Relations Division, who had been failing to answer Todd’s questions for months, and on some occasions, given inaccurate and untruthful answers. Todd’s letter, which I highlight here because of the richness of varying frustrations, reads:

“Your letter of 25th April 1978 was most apricated, particularly your remarks concerning the differences between the terms “UFO” and “unknown tracks”. Unfortunately, I fear your statement that at last, we may be getting somewhere, was a bit premature.

According to NORAD/DO message 131617Z Nov 75, there is little, if any, difference between the terms “UFO” and “unknown object”. In fact, the cited message established a requirement to report “unknown objects” (i.e., UFOs) in the same manner that unknown tracks are reported, even when “such observations did not result in track establishment”. Many NORAD Region/Air Divisions have incorporated the unknown object reporting procedures into their unknown track reporting procedures.

Without question, the NORAD/DO message was the result of many UFO overflights of SAC Weapons Storage Areas (WSAs) and Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) during October-November 1975. Of course, you denied any knowledge of these overflights in your letter of 26 August 1977.

I would very much like to know just what is going on. Was the UFO “flap” of October-November 1975 responsible for the NORAD/DO message? Is there still a requirement to forward UFO reports to HQ NORAD, and why? Is it correct to assume that there are no differences between “UFOs” and “unknown objects”? And, finally, why the does the government, which includes the Air Force and NORAD, insist on feeding the public so much baloney?

You may argue that you have been cooperative in responding to my many and varied requests for information. So might I, if it were not for the fact that all I seem to get is misleading statements, if not outright propaganda.”

Todd’s queries and accusations are fair. Firstly, he highlights the fact that one particular NORAD message, sent from NORAD Headquarters to all NORAD Regions on the 13th of November, 1975, stated that “…unknown object information will be forwarded in the same manner as for reporting unknown tracks…”. It is quite reasonable to ask what the difference is between NORAD’s “unknown objects”, versus the more traditional term “unidentified flying objects” or “UFOs”. Of course, there is none. Secondly, notable is Todd’s statement “…Of course, you denied any knowledge of these overflights in your letter of 26 August 1977.”. Here, he is referring to Maj. Stephens 26th of August, 1977 letter where Todd was told “…my check of files shows nothing that seems to correlate” regarding unidentified over flights of USAF bases near the Canadian border. As we know from the wealth of released documents, this is absolute nonsense. Thirdly, an exacerbated Todd dishes out more generalised queries like “…why the does the government, which includes the Air Force and NORAD, insist on feeding the public so much baloney?” and “all I seem to get is misleading statements, if not outright propaganda.” Possibly the most powerful of Todd’s statements is simply “I would very much like to know just what is going on”. Interestingly, Maj. Stephens never replied. Todd’s letter is imaged below.

           Aside from specific documentation that was withheld, there was other material either not accessed during searches, or, otherwise not admitted to at all. As I have highlighted, especially in Part 8 of this series, the NORAD and ADCOM Regions maintained so-called “Senior Director Logs”. The 23rd and 24th NORAD Regions released extracts of these logs which contained numerous and specific references to UFO’s. The “Senior Director Log” was, however, one of many logs that possibly contained minute-by-minute entries concerning unidentified objects. During FOI correspondence with the 20th NORAD Region (20th NR), Robert Todd obtained a copy of an operational instruction titled “20th NORAD Region Regional Control Center, Operations, Instruction 55-7, Control Center Operations Logs”. On page 1 it is stated that:

“The Senior Director (SD), Air Surveillance Officer (ASO) and the Identification Officer (IDO) will be responsible for insuring that an accurate record of events, and prescribed by this directive, is recorded in the Control Center Operations Logs. The Air Surveillance Officer will also insure that logs maintained by Manual Data (MD), Radar Inputs Countermeasure Officer (RICMO) and Height are utilized in accordance with prescribing directives.”

Thus, it is apparent that the NORAD Regions each maintained an “Air Surveillance Officer Log” and an “Identification Officer Log” alongside their “Senior Director Log”. Furthermore, the Air Surveillance Officer was also responsible, in part, for logs maintained by the Manual Data Supervisor, Radar Inputs Countermeasure Officer and Height Supervisor. Todd never had the chance to ask the NORAD Regions such log extracts that would have corresponded with the 1975 “over flights”. After two years, routine document destruction scheduling allowed for such material to be turned over to ADCOM for incineration. I have imaged the first page of “20th NORAD Region Regional Control Center, Operations, Instruction 55-7, Control Center Operations Logs” below.

             There is no question that ADCOM and NORAD released a large quantity of records to researchers, who were dogged in their application of the FOI Act, over a six year period following the strange events of 1975 and, to a lesser extent, 1976. There is likewise little doubt that both agencies were not keen on releasing other records which, to this day, remain classified. In both this entry, and Part 8, I demonstrated numerous occasions where records were withheld, or, where deception occurred in relation to what records were retrievable. In some cases, ADCOM and NORAD officials simply denied the existence of certain documents, only to then begrudgingly release them at a later date, and only through the threat of appeals and further voluminous FOI action. Aside from the fact that information was withheld, it is evident that ADCOM and NORAD did take “UFOs” seriously, and, treated them as such. Both agencies at least believed that unusual airborne activity was occurring over four sensitive, nuclear armed USAF bases, and vitally important Canadian installations, for two weeks. In all the records released, none discuss mundane solutions. It would be extremely surprising if ADCOM or NORAD, probably aided by, or in aid of, the USAF, did not produce any final discussion papers, opinion pieces, point papers or command level reports. When researchers attempted to obtain such information, the lid had already come down, and, after 1982, nothing else was declassified and released. In Part 10 of this series, I will begin to discuss the role the Strategic Air Command (SAC) played in the weird events of 1975.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 8


Previously, in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I looked at the US military’s OPREP–3 reporting system, and, in particular, its use in alerting topechelon military commands of serious UFO incidents. During the 1970’s, the OPREP3 system was used to convey urgent and current information regarding perceived UFO activity near a number of United States Air Force (USAF) bases assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC), as well as a United States Navy (USN) facility. In Part 4, I highlighted a formally classified joint North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM) manual which specifically asked that “unidentified flying objects – UFOs” events be submitted by regional NORAD Commanders via the OPREP-3 system. In Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 of this series, I moved away from the reporting of UFOs via the OPREP3 system, and began to discuss the US government’s response, concern, evaluation and investigation of these intrusive aerial events. These alarming UFO incidents, known euphemistically as the “over flights”, as well as the widespread reaction they triggered within the US government, can only be studied through the examination of begrudgingly declassified documents. The release of these records, which number in the many hundreds, only occurred due to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by a handful of dogged researchers. In particular, Robert Todd, Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett and Todd Zechel spearheaded this extraordinary and voluminous research effort, often at great cost. 

In this Part 8, I will begin to look at how the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM) assessed and responded to the apparent UFO activity during 1975. It is worth stating that I will soon discuss, at much greater length, NORAD and ADCOM’s actions in another series of blog posts I author titled “NORAD and the UFO Smokescreen”.

For those unfamiliar, NORAD is a binational, United StatesCanadian military organisation charged with both “aerospace warning” and “aerospace control” for almost all of North America. NORAD’s current “Fact Sheet” states, firstly, that “aerospace warning” includes “the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles”, and, secondly, that “aerospace control” includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defence of the airspace of Canada and the United States.”. NORAD was established in September, 1957, and continues to be an extremely major component of the US and Canadian military apparatus today. ADCOM, on the other hand, was a major command (MAJCOM) of the USAF, and was tasked with defending the continental USA only. Borne from the older Air Defence Command (ADC), ADCOM was inactivated in March, 1980, and its assets were mostly absorbed into the new Tactical Air Command (TAC). It is important to note that both NORAD and ADCOM were, in the 1970’s, headquartered at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado. However, during the late 1970’s, both organisations, after years of huge restructuring, moved to Peterson Air Force Base, also in Colorado. I raise this because some of the documents I will be highlighting are letterheaded with both Ent AFB and Peterson AFB, which, without explanation, could cause confusion. Also, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, NORAD’s air sovereignty responsibilities were divided into a number of geographical “NORAD Regions”, often shortened to “NR”. Likewise, ADCOM’s air defence mission was similarly divided into distinct “Air Divisions”, frequently notated simply as “AD”.

Of the two, NORAD has brushed off the UFO problem the most brashly. In a reply letter, dated the 10th November, 1975, Colonel Terrence C. James, NORAD’s Director of Administration (NORAD/DAD), stated to researcher Robert Todd:

“…this command has no present activity in investigating UFOs, nor does any area of the United States government that I’m aware of.”

Another letter from NORAD/DAD, dated 28th November, 1975, also to Robert Todd, said:

“We do not undertake investigative measures… …our interests are satisfied in near real time, and no formal documentation is created by this command.”

Ten years later, in an April 25th, 1988 reply letter to researcher Dr. Armen Victorian, NORAD/HQ’s Chief of Operations Branch, Directorate of Public Affairs, Lt. Col. Roger I. Pinnell, stated:

“Thank you for your recent letter requesting information on Unidentified Flying Objects. Unfortunately, we have not recently released any information concerning UFO’s, nor do we keep any such information on file... ...Although we do not have any information on UFO’s, you may want to write to the following address and they should be able to assist you...”

As we shall see, these statements depart radically from NORAD’s own records.

On the 21st of February, 1976, researcher Robert Todd submitted an FOI request to ADCOM Headquarters, Ent Air Force Base, Colorado, for any records held by NORAD Headquarters (NORAD/HQ) regarding “UFO sightings”. Todd stipulated that he particularly wanted access to records which were created during December, 1973, January 1974, and October and November, 1975. Normally, a researcher would submit FOI requests directly to the organisation in custody of needed records. However, in this case, Todd had already submitted FOI requests directly to NORAD/HQ, on both the 3erd and the 22nd of January, 1976, but was never furnished with a reply. Thus, he felt compelled to communicate with ADCOM in the hope that his requests for NORAD documentation would be handled properly, if indirectly. In his request to , On the 11th and 23erd of March, 1976, Kay A. Wales, the Chief of the Documentation Systems Division within the ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD), informed Todd that an extension of time was required to search archived NORAD records. On the 26th of March, 1976, Kay A. Wales replied to Todd, stating:

“1. Reference your letter of 21st of February, 1976, and our letters of 11 and 23 March, 1976.

2.  A determination has been made that the records you requested are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552. Attached are excerpts from the Command Directors Log. There are no entries in the log for December 1973 or January 1974 that relate to UFO’s.”

This reply is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, ADCOM had managed to secure NORAD records, where direct FOI correspondence with NORAD HQ had previously failed. Secondly, a hitherto unknown new type of NORAD records had been identified and released. These were known as “Command Directors Log” extracts, or, on occasion, “Command Directors Journals”. To be specific, in her letter, they were listed as “Unclassified Extracts from NORAD Command Directors Log”. Thirdly, with these records in hand, it was proven that NORAD did indeed deal with the UFO topic, despite their previous claims. In regards the “Command Directors Log”, it is worth noting that the Commander of NORAD’s Combat Operations Center (NCOC), at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex (CMC), Colorado, was responsible for producing them, and not the NORAD CommanderinChief (CINCNORAD) as commentators have suggested in the past. These logs contained raw, spontaneous, unevaluated information which concerned NORAD’s airspace management and aerospace warning mission. The NCOC Commander held, at minimum, the rank of Colonel, but was usually ranked Major General, and was directly answerable to the CINCNORAD. The above mentioned reply letter is imaged below.

And, with that, three pages of “Command Directors Log” extracts were furnished to Robert Todd. The most interesting aspect of them was not what was released, but what wasn’t. Nothing remarkable is contained within them at all. I have imaged below the first page of the released logs, for clarity.

Indeed, it was the dullness of these extracts that instantaneously raised Todd’s suspicions. As it turned out, those suspicions were well founded. As the years went on, ever more insistent FOI requests proved that NORAD’s NCOC, as well as various NORAD and ADCOM regional Headquarters, held far more UFOrelated entries in their logs than they wished to initially admit. This didn’t just happen once. Repeatedly, researchers asserted themselves, even threatening litigation, to compel the release of more material specific to late 1975. Before the floodgates opened, however, there were a few more instances of lethargy and deceitfulness on behalf of authorities.

On the 11th of August, 1977, Todd submitted an FOI request to NORAD HQ, Peterson AFB, Colorado, asking for copies of records relating to “unidentified flight activity over two SAC bases near the Canadian border” during the months October and November, 1975. Todd, of course, was referring to Loring AFB and Wurtsmith AFB, which were both assigned to the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC), and had been intruded upon by airborne objects variously described as “unknown helicopters”, “unknown objects”, “unidentified objects” and “UFOs”. These terms were not being thrown around carelessly by UFO researchers, but, rather, were repetitively contained in myriad declassified USAF documents, which I have detailed in previous entries in this series. In some of those alreadyreleased records, NORAD was an addressee on various distribution lists, and, as we know, three pages of NORAD “Command Directors Log” extracts detailing UFO sightings during November, 1975, had been released. So there was no question that NORAD must of being holding records related to the unidentified activity along the US-Canadian border. Amazingly, on the 26th of August, 1977, Maj. Donald B. Stephens, who was Chief of NORAD’s Community Relations Division, replied to Todd, stating:

“In response to your letter of 11 August, 1977 asking about ‘unidentified flight activity over two SAC bases near the Canadian border’, my check of files shows nothing that seems to correlate. On 31 October, 1975, there were three ‘unknowns’ in the records, all of which were identified: two small planes in Florida and an Air Canada DC8 in Canada.

Perhaps the SAC IO at Offutt AFB, NE, can be of assistance.”

As mentioned, it was already established that NORAD held a series of “Command Directors Log” entries relating to UFO activity during October and November, 1975, so Maj. Stephens’s letter seemed doubtful, and that’s putting it mildly. As we shall see, the claim that “nothing that seems to correlate” within NORAD files was utter nonsense. Anyone holding the rank of Major, not to mention being Chief of his division, is simply not worthy of the responsibilities bestowed upon him. The above mentioned letter is imaged below.

The above detailed FOI request wasn’t the only item Robert Todd sent out on the 11th of August, 1977. On the same day, Todd submitted an FOI request to ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD), Headquarters, Peterson AFB, also asking for thorough searches of NORAD “Command Directors Logs” for entries related to “UFOs” and “unidentified flight activity”. Similar to Todd’s 21st of February, 1976 FOI request, Todd was attempting to obtain NORAD records through ADCOM, because dealing with directly with NORAD had become frustrating. On the 26th of August, 1977, which happened to be the same day Maj. Stephens’s sent his “nothing that seems to correlate” reply letter, there was an equally significant response, filling two pages, sent from ADCOM’s Director of Administration, Col. Terrance C. James. Usually, successful FOI requests have released documents enclosed as attachments to the covering reply letter. In this case, however, Col. James presented the required information within the covering letter itself. It began:

“1. In response to your letter of 11 August 1977, the NORAD Command Director Log was researched for “unidentified flight activity” for the period 30, 31 October and 1 November, 1975. The following entries were noted…”

A number of NORAD Combat Operation Center (NCOC) “Command Directors Log” extracts were given:

“29 October/0630Z, Command Director called by Air Force Operations Center concerning an unknown helicopter landing in the munitions storage area at Loring AFB, Maine. Apparently this was second night in a row this occurrence. There was also an indication, but not confirmed, that Canadian bases had been overflown by a helicopter.

31 Oct/0445Z: Report from Wurtsmith AFB through Air Force Ops Center - incident at 0355Z. Helicopter hovered over SAC Weapons storage area then departed area. Tanker flying at 2700 feet made both visual sighting and radar skin paint. Tracked object 35NM SE over Lake Huron where contact was lost.

1 Nov/0920Z: Received, as info, message from Loring AFB, Maine, citing probable helicopter overflight of base.”

8  Nov/0753Z: 24th NORAD Region unknown track J330, heading SSW, 12000feet. 1 To 7 objects, 46.46N x 109.23W. Two F-106 scrambled out of Great Falls at 0745Z. SAC reported visual sighting from Sabotage Alert Teams (SAT) K1, K3, L1 and L6 (lights and jet sounds). Weather section states no anomalous propagation or northern lights. 0835Z SAC SAT Teams K3 and L4 report visual, K3 report target at 300 feet altitude and L4 reports target at 5 miles. Contact lost at 0820Z. F-106s returned to base at 0850Z with negative results. 0905Z Great Falls radar search and height had intermittent contact. 0910Z SAT teams again had visual (Site C-1, 10 miles SE Stanford, Montana). 0920Z SAT CP reported that when F-106’s were in area, targets would turn out lights, and when F-106’s left, targets would turn lights on. F-106’s never gained visual or radar contact at anytime due to terrain clearance. This same type of activity has been reported in the Malmstrom area for several days although previous to tonight no unknowns were declared. The track will be carried as a remaining unknown.”

Thus, it was finally established that NORAD held records regarding the most provocative and intrusive events of October and November, 1975. This was the tip of the iceberg, as I will later demonstrate. Of course, the above NORAD “Command Directors Log” extracts are nothing like the low level sighting report extracts released to Todd on the 26th of March, 1976, by ADCOM’s Kay A. Wales. In that meagre release, the three pages of records were indeed listed as NORAD “Command Directors Log” extracts. So, why, all of a sudden, was ADCOM’s Col. Terrance C. James now able to produce two pages of new NORAD “Command Directors Log” extracts which should have been released a year beforehand? Unsurprisingly, the fresh set of extracts contained more sensitive information, and one is bound to wonder if they had been held back deliberately in the previous FOI request. Furthermore, Col. James’s released extracts unequivocally discuss unidentified flight activity over three SAC bases, yet, Maj. Donald B. Stephens’s letter, which contained Todd’s initial question about “unidentified flight activity over two SAC bases…”, carried the statement “my check of files shows nothing that seems to correlate”. It is impossible to prove whether NORAD’s contradictory statements were innocent administrative bungling, or, were, in fact, deliberately deceitful. Whatever the situation, ADCOM was at least proving to be cooperative with NORAD records, and, following on from the above listed log extracts Col. James’s letter states:

“2. If further information is desired concerning the above, please contact the applicable air division or unit involved. Please forward your request to the air division in the specific geographic area of concern, as their logs are generally more complete than NORAD Command Directors Log.

3. The Command Chaplain publishes a map, suitable in size, and indicating the boundaries of each air division. We feel that this map will be helpful to you directing your requests to the location which can provide the most detailed information about a specific incident. The complete addresses for all ADCOM air divisions are listed below”

Listed were all ADCOM Air Divisions (AD), namely, the 20th AD at Fort Lee, Virginia, the 21st AD at Hancock Field, New York, the 23erd AD at Duluth International Airport, Minnesota, the 24th AD at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, the 25th AD at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, and the 26th AD at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. I have imaged Col. James’s two page reply below.

Unsurprisingly, Robert Todd sent FOI requests to a number of ADCOM’s Air Division HQ’s, and, as the months went on, significant information was released. On the 2nd of September, 1977, Todd sent an FOI request to the Directorate of Administration, Headquarters 24th AD, (24th AD/DAD) for “…all log entries held by the 24th NORAD Region which pertain to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and unidentified flight activity… …during October and November, 1975”. Ironically, the ’Headquarters of both the 24th AD and the 24th NORAD Region (24th NR) are colocated at Malmstrom AFB. Researchers already knew that Malmstrom AFB was one of the locations where unknown aerial incursions had transpired. On the 15th of September, 1977, FOI Officer Lt. Col. Wayne C. Young, Directorate of Administration, Headquarters, 24thAD, sent back a three page reply. Similar to the reply Todd got from ADCOM/DAD on the 26th of August, 1977, Lt. Col. Young presented applicable records within the covering letter itself:

“In response to your Freedom of Information Act request letter dated 2 September, 1977. The following extracts are taken from the 24th NORAD Region Senior Director Log. This is the only source of information we have pertaining to Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) incidents outlined in your letter and all related incidents. The log itself has classified entries and cannot be copied; however, I assure you all pertinent entries have been extracted.”

It is important here to note that all ADCOM and NORAD regional ’Headquarters maintained a “Senior Directors Log”. These logs are comparable to the “Command Directors Log” maintained at the respective ADCOM and NORAD ’Headquarters in Colorado. Col. Young’s continues with the direct extracting of 24th NORAD “Senior Directors Log” entries:

“7 Nov 75 (1035Z) - Received a call from the 341st Strategic Air Command Post (SAC CP), saying that the following missile locations reported seeing a large red to orange to yellow object:  M-1, L-3, LIMA and L-6. The general object location would be 10 miles south of Moore, Montana, and 20 miles east of Buffalo, Montana. Commander and Deputy for Operations (DO) informed.

7 Nov 75 (1203Z) - SAC advised that the LCF at Harlowton, Montana, observed an object which emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway.

7 Nov 75 (1319Z) - SAC advised K-1 says very bright object to their east is now southeast of them and they are looking at it with 10x50 binoculars. Object seems to have lights (several) on it, but no distinct pattern. The orange/gold object overhead also has small lights on it.  SAC also advises female civilian reports having seen an object bearing south from her position six miles west of Lewiston.

7 Nov 75 (1327Z) - L-1 reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape. In all this time, surveillance has not been able to detect any sort of track except for known traffic.

7 Nov 75 (1355Z) - K-1 and L-1 report that as the sun rises, so do the objects they visual.

7 Nov 75 (1429Z) - From SAC CP: As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared. Commander and DO notified.

8 Nov 75 (0635Z) - A security camper team at K-4 reported UFO with white lights, one red light 50 yards behind white light. Personnel at K-1 seeing same object.

8 Nov 75 (0645Z) - Height personnel picked up objects 10-13,000 feet, Track J330, EKLB 0648, 18 knots, 9,500 feet. Objects as many as seven, as few as two A/C.

8 Nov 75 (0735Z) - J330 unknon 0753.  Stationary/seven knots/12,000  One (varies seven objects). None, no possibility, EKLB 3746, two F-106, GTF, SCR 0754. NCOC notified.

8 Nov 75 (0820Z) - Lost radar contact, fighters broken off at 0825, looking in area of J331 (another height finder contact).

8 Nov 75 (0905Z) - From SAC CP: L-sites had fighters and objects; fighters did not get down to objects.

8 Nov 75 (0915Z) - From SAC CP: From four different points: Observed objects and fighters; when fighters arrived in the area, the lights went out; when fighters departed, the lights came back on; to NCOC.

8 Nov 75 (0953Z) - From SAC CP:  L-5 reported object increased in speed - high velocity, raised in altitude and now cannot tell the object from stars. To NCOC.

8 Nov 75 (1105Z) - From SAC CP:  E-1 reported a bright white light (site is approximately 60 nautical miles north of Lewistown). NCOC notified.

9 Nov 75 (0305Z) - SAC CP called and advised SAC crews at Sites L-1, L-6 and M-1 observing UFO.  Object yellowish bright round light 20 miles north of Harlowton, 2 to 4,000 feet.

9 Nov 75 (0320Z) - SAC CP reports UFO 20 miles southeast of Lewiston, orange white disc object.  24th NORAD Region surveillance checking area. Surveillance unable to get height check.

9 Nov 75 (0320Z) - FAA Watch Supervisor reported he had five air carriers vicinity of UFO, United Flight 157 reported seeing meteor, ‘arc welder's blue’ in color.  SAC CP advised, sites still report seeing object stationary.

9 Nov 75 (0348) - SAC CP confirms L-1, sees object, a mobile security team has been directed to get closer and report.

9 Nov 75 (0629Z) - SAC CP advises UFO sighting reported around 0305Z. Cancelled the flight security team from Site L-1, checked area and all secure, no more sightings.

10 Nov 75 (0215Z) - Received a call from SAC CP. Report UFO sighting from site K-1 around Harlowson area. Surveillance checking area with height finder.

10 Nov 75 (0153Z) - Surveillance report unable to locate track that would correlate with UFO sighted by K-1. 10 Nov 75 (1125Z) - UFO sighting reported by Minot Air Force Station, a bright star-like object in the west, moving east, about the size of a car. First seen approximately 1015Z. Approximately 1120Z, the object passed over the radar station, 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet high, no noise heard.  Three people from the site or local area saw the object. NCOC notified.”

Below is the first page of the Lt. Col. Young’s reply, which includes the first few 24th NORAD Region “Senior Command Directors Log” extracts.

It is very difficult, from these transitory and limited descriptions to discern exactly what was going on above the nuclear missile fields near Malmstrom over these three days. My aim is not to study each event, or attribute causes. Other researchers have tried, and have failed to come up with definite and guaranteed conclusions. What can be guaranteed is that a very significant number of people, including USAF officers, thought they were dealing with a disturbing series of unidentifiable objects over Montana. The persistent use of the terms “UFO” and “object” demonstrates this beyond any doubt. The situation would be less alarming if it wasn’t for provocative statements like, “…reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape” and “SAC CP reports UFO… …orange white disc object”.

More importantly, at least for the purposes of my work, is the fact that the both the 24th NORAD Region’s Commander, as well as the Deputy Commander for Operations, were informed of these intrusions right from the beginning. Furthermore, there are no less than five occasions where the NORAD Combat Operations Center (NCOC), at NORAD HQ, Peterson AFB, Colorado, was “notified” of the unfolding events. Of course, NORAD and ADCOM were not the only entities involved. In Part 6 of this series, I outlined how the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and their huge National Military Command Center (NMCC), in Washington DC, were also being urgently informed of the alarming incidents near Malmstrom AFB. The NMCC’s Deputy Director for Operations (NMCC/DDO) produced a number of “Memorandums for the Record”, “DDO Talkers” and “DDO Updates” which summarised the information being relayed to them from NORAD. Numerous other commands were also on the “need to know” list, and responded with a degree of alarm.

On the 31st of October, 1977, Robert Todd sent an FOI request to the Directorate of Administration, Headquarters, 23erd Air Division (23erd AD/DAD), at Duluth International Airport, Minnesota for “…all log entries held by the 23erd NORAD Region and the 23erd Air Division which pertain to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and unidentified flight activity… …during October and November, 1975”. On the 15th of November, 1977, Lt. Col. Jack W. Reid, Executive Officer at the Directorate of Administration, 23erd AD, sent his reply:

“1. A determination has been made that the records you requested in your letter dated 31 October 1977 are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C 552.

2. Extracts from the 23d Air Division Senior Directors Log for the month of November 1975 have been made and a copy is attached.”

No mention is made of any applicable 23erd NORAD Region logs, but ADCOM’s 23erd AD Headquarters apparently held pertinent records. Lt. Col. Reid’s letter is imaged below.

Attached to the reply letter were five pages of 23erd AD “Senior Director Log” extracts which concerned “UFOs” or “unusual sightings” during November, 1975. Some of the more provocative log entries are:

“1205Z/11 Nov 75 - Received unusual sighting report from Falconbridge AFS, Ontario, Canada. Info passed to NORAD Command Director, Intelligence and Weather.

1840Z/11 Nov 75 - Actions pertaining to scramble of JL08 and 09 due to unusual object sighting. With Director of Operations approval scrambled JL08/09 at 1745Z, airborne at 1750Z. NORAD Combat Operations Center notified of Falconbridge AFS incident at 1820Z. At 1804 22nd NORAD Region was briefed on aircraft scramble and Falconbridge incident. Aircraft over Falconbridge flying over incident, point no sighting, 1831 aircraft still in area, no radar aircraft or visual contact, Falconbridge AFS still reporting object at 26,000 ft.

2235Z/12 Nov 75 - Transmitted unknown report to NCOC Surveillance on N280 (track number) all parts (I, II and III) on incident at Falconbridge AFS which occurred on 11 Nov 75. Reference Log entry 1840Z/11 Nov 75.

0533Z/15 Nov 75 - UFO report from Falconbridge, occurrence time 0202Z, report sent to NCOC Surveillance, referred to Assistant Command Director, Space Defense Center, and Intelligence. These 3 individuals considered the report a UFO report and not an unknown track report.”

These, as usual, contain the briefest of details. More important to my work here, however, are the implications around the very fact that “UFOs” were distinctly being dealt with at all, and how. Also, it is important to note that most of the information contained in this particular release of 23erd AD log extracts comes from Ontario, Canada. In the 1970’s, both the 22nd and 22erd NORAD Region’s covered much of southern Canada, and, both were fed primary radar data from Falconbridge Air Force Station near North Bay, Ontario. The 23erd NORAD Region Headquarters were co-located with the 23erd ADCOM Air Division Headquarters, at Duluth International Airport, Minnesota, thus, the 23erd AD log records we see here reflect what was happening directly from southern Canada. Why the 23erd NORAD Region didn’t release records, which would presumably be very similar, within this FOI request reply is unknown. The first two entries I highlight above are dated the 11th of November, 1975. At 12:05 Zulu, it is states that an “unusual sighting report” from Canada’s Falconbridge Air Force Station was passed to NORAD’s Command Director, as well as two other components listed as “Intelligence” and “Weather”. Hours later, at 18:40 Zulu, combat jets were in the air “due to unusual object sighting”, and the NORAD Combat Operations Center (NCOC) and the 22nd NORAD Region Headquarters at North Bay, Ontario were notified.

The next day, at 22:35 Zulu, the previous nights “unknown” was finalised with “NCOC Surveillance” in what is referenced as “all parts (I, II and III)”. This appears to reference a three-part form report. We have seen such paperwork before. In Part 4 of this series I highlighted a joint NORAD/ADCOM manual titled “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System”. In that manual, dated 25th of November, 1977, Section 15 is titled “Identification of Air Traffic, and, contains a subsection titled “Figure 15–4. OPREP–3 Unknown Track Report”. Point 1 states “This report provides the NCOC with additional data concerning each track classified as unknown (to include unidentified flying objects – UFOs)”. While this manual was published in 1977, one can’t help but wonder if a very similar, if not identical, three-part NORAD/ADCOM form was in use during the 1975 “over flights”. Whatever the exact procedures during the November, 1975, as opposed to the later published NORAD/ADCOM manual detailed above, clearly “UFOs” and “unusual object sightings” are taken seriously enough to not only alert top-echelon areas within NORAD and ADCOM, but also vector in USAF combat jets to identify the unknowns.

The final notable log extract, from an official response pointofview, was entered at 05:33 Zulu, on the 15th November. A “UFO report” was sent to the NCOC Surveillance and “Intelligence”, as well as Assistant Command Director, Space Defence Center. No information regarding the “UFO” is given, but “…3 individuals considered the report a UFO report and not an unknown track report” make it clear that this was anything but a routine unknown aircraft tracking event. That the event was referred to Assistant Command Director of the Space Defence Center (SDC) is noteworthy. In 1975, The SDC, located at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex (CMC), maintained the old Space Detection and Tracking System (SPADATS). SPADATS was responsible for space surveillance, space object identification, and ballistic missile attack warning, and received continuous data from the US Navy’s Naval Space Surveilance System (NAVSPASUR) and the USAF’s SPACETRACK network. The fact that ADCOM’s 23erd Air Division referred a “UFO report” to the Assistant Command Director of the SDC clearly demonstrates that UFO events were considered significant. The first two pages of the 23erd AD “Senior Director Log” is imaged below.

To conclude, in light of the records I have highlighted here, it is proven that both ADCOM and NORAD dealt with the apparent UFO events of 1975. Without question, numerous military commands believed that they were dealing with aerial oddities. What are researchers supposed to think when the terms “unidentified flying object”, “UFO” and “unknown object” are ceaselessly used in their own documentation? It is quite puerile, thus, for NORAD to state, as they did in a letter to Robert Todd on the 28th of November, 1975, that “…no formal documentation” regarding UFO’s “is created by this command”. Again, are researchers expected to seriously accept this? Furthermore, we know that only fraction of the records they generated were released. In Part 9 of this series, I will continue to present hitherto unseen records begrudgingly admitted by ADCOM and NORAD during the late 1970’s.