Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Federal Aviation Administration And UFO's

Part 1

  

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the United ’States airspace and civilian flight regulation body. Their responsibilities include the management of national airspace, air traffic control services and flight safety promotion. The FAA’s mission also includes an interoperable role with the United States Air Force (USAF) and North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) to assist in atmospheric air defence and military flying activity. For example, primary radar coverage of the USA is partly achieved by the joint FAA-USAF Joint Surveillance System (JSS). The most important component of that system is the Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR) network which is capable of detecting and tracking any sizable body in US airspace and somewhat beyond. Raw radar data from long-range radar sites is instantly fed to FAA and USAF sites to build up a wider “recognised air picture” of exactly what is in the American skies at any given time.

Despite this awesome capability, the FAA, apparently, does not deal with “Unidentified Flying Objects” (UFOs). Dozens of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted to the FAA, over the last thirty or so years, have yielded almost nothing of substance. There are only a couple of FAA publications that mention UFO’s. One is the “Federal Aviation Aeronautical Information Manual, Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures”, often simply called the “AIM”. The latest version of the AIM was promulgated on the 10th of December, 2015. John Greenwald, owner of “The Black Vault” website, was probably the most recent FOIA requester to be furnished with a copy of the relevant pages that mention UFO’s. Researcher Alejandro Rojas recently discussed this matter with John Greenwald, and the story can be seen here. Briefly, the above mentioned FAA manual states, in Section 7−6−4, states:

“a. Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center, such as the National UFO Reporting Center, etc.

b. If concern is expressed that life or property might be endangered, report the activity to the local law enforcement department.”

This has to be one more puerile pieces of officially sanctioned guidance I have seen. Flight crews do still report UFO’s and other aerial oddities, but they seem to have nothing better to fall back on, at least where the FAA is concerned. One could argue about this topic ceaselessly, but it’s an old story, and nothing has changed one way, or another. Another FAA publication, titled “JO 7110.65W Air Traffic Organization Policy”, last published on the 26th of May, 2016, has exactly the same short entry on UFO’s as the above detailed AIM manual.  

In Greenwald’s original FOI request, dated April 12th, 2016, he asked for copies of:

“…records, electronic or otherwise, of ALL FAA manuals, regulations and publications - that deal with, or mention, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and/or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and/or Unexplained Phenomena, and/or any other derivative that may be used the your agency. This would include, but not be limited to, all manuals, publications and/or instructions that pertain to pilots (commercial or otherwise), Air Traffic Controllers, or employees of the FAA.”

It should have been fairly clear to the FAA that Greenwald’s request should have covered unknown or unidentified aircraft that are detected and tracked on primary radar networks. This happens all the time. Aircraft without their International Friend or Foe (IFF) function switched on are common. Then there are balloons, many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and anything else that is IFF-quiet or unable to communicate by radio. In fact, everything is a UFO – that is “Unidentified Flying Object” – until it is positively identified. The FAA must, therefore, have gigantic quantities of information on “UFOs”. There would be policy and plans materials, actual radar imaging, reports and briefs relating to unknown aircraft crossing international boarders, training manuals for ATC’s, and myriad other records that deal with what the FAA’s role is in processing unidentified aircraft. So, what Greenwald was furnished with is almost irrelevant in the scheme of things. The staff handling the request must have decided that he solely meant “UFO” and “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and/or Unexplained Phenomena” to be of the media-induced, kooky “flying saucer” variety. However, it is also the issue, on a serious level, that no one, especially the FAA, wants to discuss. Billy Cox, who writes most entertainingly in his De Void blog, calls this caper “the great taboo”.

So if “UFO” and “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and/or Unexplained Phenomena” are not on the FAA’s books, then “unidentified” aircraft, “unknown” radar tracks, etc certainly must be.

And now I am attempting, in a series of reports, to somehow lift the lid on this issue.

An FAA Order, titled “7610.4J Special Military Operations”, put into effect on November the 3erd, 1998, contains information that may one day lead us to significant aircraft identification records. Chapter 5, titled “Aircraft Movement Information Service” (AMIS) is worth a general glance, but it is section 8, titled “Violations of ADIZ Regulations”, that may point to a cache of FAA records which would relate directly to unknown and unidentified aircraft. Section 8 is itself divided into sub-sections. Thus, for example, chapter 5, section 8, sub-section 1, is written “5-8-1”.

Chapters 5-8-1 through to 5-8-4 of “7610.4J Special Military Operations” discusses the sharing of data between the FAA and NORAD when an “unknown radar track” appears on dedicated primary radar systems. Also shared is information on known flight activity and attempts at aircraft identification. When NORAD orders USAF combat aircraft to intercept the object is causing the “unknown radar track”, FAA controllers are part of the process, and are required to fill out either Part A or Part B of a special form. The form is called an “AMIS Unknown/Intercept Log”, as we shall see.

Chapter 5-8-5, titled “Aircraft Identification Before Intercept”, states:

“AMIS controllers shall complete Part A of the AMIS Unknown/Intercept Log (FIG 5-8-1) when an unknown radar track is reported by NORAD air defense facilities and the aircraft is identified before intercept. Each Unknown/Intercept Log shall be numbered consecutively for each calendar year.”

Chapter 5-8-6, titled “Aircraft Identification After Intercept”, states:

“AMIS controllers shall complete Part B of the Unknown/Intercept Log when an unknown radar track was intercepted to identify the aircraft.”

So, this is simply saying that when NORAD send combat jets to identify a target, the FAA Air Traffic Controllers will be part of the tracking and communications process, and will fill out a “AMIS Unknown/Intercept Log”. If the unknown/unidentified aircraft or object is somehow identified before the jets chase it down, Part A of the log form will be filled out. If the unknown/unidentified aircraft or object is only identified after the jets get there, then Part B is filled out. This raises some very relevant questions. How often do NORAD controlled USAF jets have to do this? What sort of unknowns vanish before intercept occurs? What sort of things have they identified upon arrival? Are they all simply unannounced or distressed aircraft that have lost the ability to communicate? Or are other oddities sometimes seen? Below is relevant page from the above detailed FAA publication.




The “7610.4J Special Military Operations” provides a copy of the “AMIS Unknown/Intercept Log”. It is designated “Figure 5-8-1”.  For unknown/unidentified aircraft or objects, Part A is titled “Unknown” and FAA staff can fill out the blocks one would predicably expect on a form such as this. There are sections for “Time”, “Coordinates”, “Heading”, etc. Of note are sections titled “Possible Identification” and “Remarks”. There are also blocks for “Reason Unknown” which give examples that staff would circle like “Late Flight Plan” and “Pilot Error”. There is also an “Other (Specify)” section. Part B contains more technical sections that are, as explained above, relate to a successful identification after jets get to the offending unknown. The “AMIS Unknown/Intercept Log” is imaged below.



The above discussed publication is from 1998. What about a current example? Indeed, there is a much more recent version now available, but only in redacted form. My college David Charmichael had it furnished to him under the FOI Act in December, 2015. It is titled “JO 7610.4JS Special Operations”, which is very similar to the title of the 1998 version. It was published on April the 3erd, 2014. The chapter layout has changed though. Chapter 5, section 8, is now chapter 5, section 5. The contents, despite being heavily redacted, appear to be similar to the old version, as we can see below.



Likewise, the Unknown/Intercept Log”, now designated as “Figure 5-5-1”, is similar to the old form, but with heavy redactions. Also, the name of the form has now, apparently, changed to “AAMS Unknown/Intercept Log”. In FAA language, “AAMS” stands for Area Airspace Management System ”.  The redactions are in place due to the material apparently being exempt from public release under 5 U.S.C 552(b)(7)(E)  which:

“…protects from disclosure information which would reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions or that would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.”

Below is the current, redacted version of the “AAMS Unknown/Intercept Log”.



Of course, none of this is proof that UFO’s – above and beyond unknown or unidentified aircraft and the like – are being routinely detected on combined NORAD and FAA systems. Having said that, examples of these FAA Unknown/Intercept forms have never been released, to my knowledge at least, and we simply do not know what has been hurriedly scrawled on to them during tense detection, tracking and interception events. Maybe we will one day know. Part 2 coming soon. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 3

  

OPREP–3 reports containing information relating to unknown objects near US military installations are considered extremely sensitive, and thus not releasable.”

That was the extraordinary statement made by the Office of the Secretary of Defence (OSD) in a 1990’s–era reply letter to UK based researcher Dr. Armen Victorian, as we shall see.

In Part 3 of this series I will discuss efforts, past and present, to have the US government release OPREP–3 records that relate to UFO incidents. For those who are unfamiliar with this particular topic, an “OPREP–3” is a type of US military report that conveys urgent, national security information to the highest echelons of the US government. “OPREP” means “Operational Report”, and “3” refers to a category meaning “Event/Incident”. In Part 1 and Part 2, I demonstrated that OPREP–3’s have been used to report UFO’s, or at least very unusual and unidentified aircraft, hovering or flying over sensitive US military installations. I also went to some length displaying actual OPREP–3 records, which, I think, is absolutely critical in establishing the authenticity of these claimed intrusions.

Aside from the pivotal work of American researchers Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett and Robert Todd, I can find only one example of anyone who has attempted to have the US government release OPREP–3 reports relating to UFO’s. British researcher Dr. Armen Victorian, also known as Henry Azadehdel, must have recognized the importance of the OPREP–3 reporting channel in the 1990’s. On the 26th of July, 1996, Dr. Victorian submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence (OASD). While we do not have Dr. Victorian’s records to study, it is clear that his submission related to OPREP–3 reporting. On the 14th of March, 1997, A. H. Passarella, Director of Freedom of Information, OASD, released a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) instruction titled “Joint Reporting Structure Event And Incident Reports” (CJCSI 3150.03). Promulgated on the 1st of December, 1993, the instruction, fifty–three pages in length, describes OPREP–3 reporting in detail. This can’t be co–incidence. Any UFO researcher, especially one with a history like Victorian’s, asking the OASD for records about OPREP–3’s must have assumed there was something significant to be found. Below I have imaged copy of the OASD reply to Dr. Victorian.


Furthermore, below is Page 1 of the CJCS instruction , “Joint Reporting Structure Event And Incident Reports” (CJCSI 3150.03), that was released to Dr. Victorian. Note, it immeadely establishes, that the “…OPREP–3 reporting system… …is used by military unites at any level of command to report significant events and incidents to the highest levels of command.”.


My collegue David Charmichael, who has submitted literally hundreds of FOI requests to US military and intelligence agency’s in the last five years, was also active with Dr. Victorian in the 1990’s. Charmichael found Victorian to be “ahead of his time” and “always coming up with new ideas” relating to seeing that government bodies release information about UFO’s. Unfortunately – to put it mildly – we do not have Victorian’s records. He vanished from the UFO scene in 1997 as mysteriously as he arrived ten years earlier. David, who saw large quantities of Victorian’s records, recalls that Victorian pursued the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for actual OPREP–3 records relating to “unidentified objects”, “unknown objects” and “unidentified flying objects”. At some point, probably in 1997, Victorian was sent a letter from the Office of the Secretary of Defence (OSD) that stated:

“OPREP–3 reports containing information relating to unknown objects near US military installations are considered extremely sensitive, and thus not releasable.”

This is explosive. We already know that at least a handful of OPREP–3 reports involving UFO’s have been sent to the NMCC. And that was way back in the 1970’s. So clearly, from the above statement, UFO’s were continuing to be reported well into the 1990’s. Charmichael is absolutely positive that the above statement is accurate. He specifically remembers how alarming it was to see the words “unknown objects” and “extremely sensitive”. So just how many “unknown objects” are zooming over highly secured military bases? And what sort of analysis of these events is conducted? This is of the utmost concern. Some of these installations are home to stockpiles of hundreds of nuclear warheads, or ballistic missiles on hot alert. In 2008, researcher Robert Hastings, who has worked tirelessly for decades on this very topic, published “UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites”. The book, at over six–hundred pages, leaves little doubt that something terribly odd is going on. The US government can’t very well say it isn’t happening. Their own records, mainly from the 1960’s and 1970’s, lay out the facts quite clearly. My argument is that OPREP–3’s, and probably those of the OPREP–3 PINNACLE variety, and it’s frightening sub–categories, may well still be used to report such events.

With all this in mind, on April the 29, 2015, I submitted an FOI request to the Office of the Secretary of Defence and Joint Staff, who control the NMCC, for:

“…any OPREP–3 reports which have been sent to the National Military Command Centre; and/or the Joint Staff; and/or the Secretary of Defence. I would like to restrict the scope of my FOI request to any OPREP–3 reports which contain information, terms or references to: ‘unknown aircraft’, ‘unidentified aircraft’, ‘UFO’, ‘unusual aircraft’, ‘low flying’, ‘phenomenon’, ‘phenomena’, ‘uncorrelated’, ‘track’, ‘return’, etc. I wish the data range to be from 1995 to 2015, inclusive…”

On the 30th of April, 2015, Stephanie L. Carr, Chief, Office of Freedom of Information, Department of Defence, replied, in part:

“We will be unable to respond to your request within the FOIA’s 20 day statutory time period as there are unusual circumstances which impact on our ability to quickly process your request. These unusual circumstances are: (a) the need to search for and collect records from a facility geographically separated from this Office; (b) the potential volume of records responsive to your request; and (c) the need for consultation with one or more other agencies or DoD components having a substantial interest in either the determination or the subject matter of the records. For these reasons, your request has been placed in our complex processing queue and will be worked in the order the request was received. Our current administrative workload is 1554 open requests.”

At this point, it appeared that the staffs that were handling my request were doing so properly. On the 16th of November, 2015, a reply to my request finally came. It stated, not unsurprisingly, that:

“After electronic records and files of JS, no records responsive to your request could be identified. Further, JS certified that, to the best of their knowledge, the records you describe do not exist.”

Thus, apparently, no OPREP–3 reportable events involving UFO’s had been submitted to the NMCC, Joint Chiefs (JS) or the Secretary of Defence, in the last twenty years.

The devil, however, may be in the detail. When I submitted the FOI request, I asked for “any OPREP–3 reports”. It occurred to me that general, all–purpose OPREP–3’s – those without flag words – do not get sent to the highest echelons of the US military. Thus, there may have been nothing to be found, UFO–related or otherwise. What I should have asked for is any records that were specifically of the “OPREP–3 PINNACLE” and “OPREP–3 PINNACLE NUCFLASH” variety. The staff conducting my request would surely have known that I would be interested in all types of OPREP–3’s, and not just the basic kind. Technically though, they don’t have to search for anything that I didn’t specify. This is obviously very important. UFO reports involving UFO’s skulking over military installations are probably submitted at OPREP–3 PINNACLE level.  I am currently drafting a much more powerful request that covers this issue. Of course, one wonders if the whole FOI process is effective and consistent enough for any of our efforts to work at all. In other words, one can’t be sure if they would own up to anything even if they were in custody of such alarming material.

There is hope however. Last year, I decided to pick one of the US Air Force Space Command’s (AFSPC) space warning squadrons as a target for OPREP–3 record requesting. I randomly picked the 6th Space Warning Squadron (6thSWS) as I had studied it previously. The  6SWS, based at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Massachusetts, maintains a powerful Solid State Phased Array Radar (SSPAR) to look east over the Atlantic Ocean for sea–launched ballistic missile launches, and incoming nuclear warheads from sub–space. The system also detects and tracks near–earth objects. On November 6th, 2015, I asked, under the FOI Act, for:

“…copies of all OPREP–3 PINNACLE's; and OPREP–3 BEELINE's that were sent from the 6th Space Warning Squadron (6th SWS)/Cape Cod AFS to NORAD/NORTHCOM; the National Military Command Center (NMCC); Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); Office of the Secretary of Defense; United States Air Force HQ.”

Note that I did not discuss UFO’s or unidentified aircraft. I wanted to see any OPREP–3 records. Also, I specified only OPREP–3 PINNACLE and OPREP–3 BEELINE reports. The juggling of FOI wording can yield different results, which is critical in designing some sort of blueprint for future FOI work. The request was handled by MSgt Michael D. Hartmann of the 21st Communications Squadron, and, on January 13th, 2016, he provided me with a “full records” response, including a fourteen page PDF attachment. Indeed, the 6SWS/Cape Cod AFS had, in the last decade, submitted a number of OPREP–3 BEELINE reports to higher authorities, and I was staring at them. Unfortunately, none of them related to UFO’s. For the record, they related to events like electrical outages and hurricane alerts.

My British based colleague, David Charmichael, has done far more FOI work on this topic than I have. While I have submitted a total of two requests for OPREP–3 records, David has submitted dozens. None have resulted in information about UFO events, but there has been some interesting correspondence. On the 10th of December, 2012, Charmichael submitted an FOI request to the 377th Air Base Wing for: “…records pertaining to unidentified aerial devices or objects, or like terms…” and “…operational procedures for reporting such events of unusual or unidentified events or objects or like terms”. He amended the request on the 11th of December, 2012, to include UFO–type records that were “…filed under Air Force Instruction 10–106” and “Joint Publication 3–01”. This request would certainly cover any OPREP–3 records. On the 3erd of January, 2013, the 377th Mission Support Group’s (377th MSG) FOI Act Program Manager, Jose Gonzalez, gave Charmichael a “no responsive records” answer on actual UFO reports. However, they did provide a copy of Air Force Instruction 10–106, which, of course, we already have copies of. Of interest, though, was a statement made by the 377th MSG in their reply letter:

“…the responsibilities of addressing unidentified aerial devices or objects fall directly under the control of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)…”

Normally, the USAF doesn’t like to discuss anything involving the words “unidentified” and “object”, especially not in the same sentence. At least, though, they told the truth in partly fobbing the matter off to NORAD, which is something I have been studying for years. Below is Page 1 of the above mentioned reply letter to David Charmichael.



In a 13th December, 2012, request to the 47th Flying Training Wing (47 FTW) at Laughlin AFB, Texas, Carmichael asked for copies of “…any Operational Report (OPREP) and Situation Report (SITREP) records” relating to “unidentified aerial devices or objects” throughout the period of the 1st of January, 2011 to the 13th of December, 2012. Note that the Charmichael requested so–called “Situation Reports”, usually abbreviated to “SITREP”, as well as OPREP’s.  SITREP’s are a type of commander’s report which I will be covering in future blog posts. Suffice to say, it is very possible that SITREP’s could be used for reporting UFO events.

In March, 2013, Charmichael was given a “no records response”. He then asked, ironically using the FOI Act, for all the whole case file and internal records that were created as a result of his initial FOI request. A number of documents were released, including a one page memorandum, which I have imaged below, from the 47 FTW Command Post to the 47 FTW Judge Advocate (JA). The memo, signed by TSgt Eric S. High, and dated 13th of December, 2012, stated, in part, that:

“…I did not find any Operational or Situation Reports (OPREP/SITREP), files or documentation in any form relating to… …unidentified aerial devices or objects… …I did conduct a thorough review of all 48 OPREP’s and SITREP’s submitted during this period and my research provided negative results.”


Thus, there were certainly OPREP’s and SITREP’s found, but regrettably nothing relating to UFO’s. Out of curiosity, Charmichael promptly asked for all forty–eight of those records anyway. Some months later the records were released in full. Indeed, there was nothing in the cache related to UFO’s, but it was the first time we were able to see what modern OPREP–3 reports looked like. One of the more interesting OPREP–3’s released was a July, 2012 OPREP–3 BEELINE which described the emergency landing of a civilian aircraft at Laughlin AFB while the airfield was closed. I have imaged it below.

           David Charmichael has submitted dozens of these kinds of requests to various USAF entities, from Major Commands (MAJCOM) down to mid–sized flying wings. Sometimes, the USAF does the work for him. In a 10th of December, 2012 FOI request to Headquarters, Air Combat Command (ACC), it was asked of them for copies any OPREP or SITREP records involving “unidentified aerial devices or objects” throughout 2011 and 2012. The ACC came back on the 10th of January, 2013, with, again, a “no records response”. HQ ACC were helpful in having the Command Posts of a number of ACC–assigned bases search their records, which meant Charmichael didn’t have to submit separate requests to each base. We just have to hope they are all telling the truth. Below is a copy of the first page of the ACC response, with twelve bases listed as being searched.


FOI requests continue. We are fairly asking for records, some which would be quite timeworn, which should be released. If UFO’s are appearing over US military installations at the rate that has been claimed, then the wider US government, and the populace, should know about. One problem we face is asking for records over a particular date range. Sometimes records from one command can be scattered in temporary archives. Sometimes the FOI process demands us to ask for records of a particular time period, or even the actual date of an event. Of course, we do not know if and when OPREP–3 reportable UFO events have occurred at any given location, or, on what date, so it becomes a stalemate. This is all very convenient for the US military. 

Had OPREP–3 records from Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, and Pinecastle Test Range not been released, researchers may never have taken an interest in this special reporting system. The US military has effectively admitted that UFO’s do intrude into restricted airspace, where nuclear weapons are stored or operationally active, and, that urgent reporting to higher commands ensures. Are the events of the 1970’s unique? Or was the Office of the Secretary of Defence sounding alarm bells to Dr. Armen Victorian in the 1990’s that these events continued. As I have alluded to before, the old “Air Force Manual 55–11 Operations – Air Force Operational Reporting System” (AFM 55–11), dated 20th May, 1968, described the “Air Force Reporting System” (AFOREP). This contained an early version of the OPREP–3 system we see today. Also, there is a curious statement AFM 55–11. Section 3–1–C. It reads:

“Provisions of the AFOREP are not intended to abrogate major command systems employing advanced automated, online procedures.”

This is effectively saying that “automated, online procedures” for reporting serious events may have even trumped the AFOREP system of the day. Is that sort of caper going on now? Are OPREP–3’s just one of a many systems – each more classified and urgent than the last – used to report UFO shocking incidents? Maybe soon we will know. 

           On a final note, another piece of curious information I have learnt is that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), when accepting UFO reports, would assign them a ten digit “collections” and/or “project number. The number is attached to all processed UFO reports and can be found on the bottom of the documents. At least, that’s the rumor. Indeed, some 1980’s and 1990’s DIA UFO documents do have a line reading “PROJECT NO” at the bottom. Apparently, copies were automatically sent to a special area of the DIA that deals with UFO’s and other certain intelligence matters. UFO related OPREP–3’s may have been included in this DIA project. Also, OPREP–3’s often do have the DIA on the distribution list. So would it be any surprise if copies of UFO related OPREP–3’s landed at the DIA and were subsequently given a digit “collections” and/or “project number? Why not? They do it for other topics. We do not know much more than this, except that the time period would most probably have been the 1980’s and 1990’s. Normally, I do not speculate on stories that cannot be verified or checked against more solid information. However, this issue may be so important that it is worth raising here. 

           In Part 4 of this series, which will be some months away, I will continue to present information about OPREP–3 reporting requirements and UFO’s, and some new FOI avenues we are looking at. If Dr. Armen Victorian is reading this, we need to see your records now more than ever. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

New Records Related To The Rendlesham / Bentwaters  UFO Incident ?


Part 1

  

With all the hoohar around the UK’s Rendlesham/Bentwaters UFO affair, some of it quite puerile, I thought it was about time that some new primary evidence took center stage for a few minutes. Is that too much to ask? Imagine a world where primary evidence is the topic all day and all night long? The skeptics would be fleeing for the hills. We could just have some peace and quiet from the worthless garbage. Is that too much to ask? So, presented here are some new documents that have either never, or seldom, been seen. You all can thank Boston-based researcher Barry Greenwood for this material; plus the collections of two researchers sadly no longer with us, namely Robert Todd and Lawrence Fawcett. 

The first request for official records that related to the Rendlesham UFO case was made under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) by Lawrence Fawcett of the group “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy” (CAUS) on the 8th of April , 1983. It was addressed to the 81st Combat Support Group, United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE). Back came the reply on the 28th of April, 1983. It was signed by the Bentwaters AFB Commander, Col. Henry J. Cochran, and stated:

“1. Reference your letter dated April 14, 1983 requesting information about unknown aircraft activity near RAF Bentwaters. There was allegedly some strange activity near RAF Bentwaters at the approximate time in question but not on land under U.S. Air Force jurisdiction and, therefore, no official investigation was conducted by the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing. Thus, the records you request do not exist.

2. Regarding the other statements in your letter; no photos of the alleged craft were taken by the Air Force. Also, there is no requirement under the Freedom of Information Act to create a record for the purpose of fulfilling a request. I can assure you that if there were such records we would provide them to you.”

A number of things seem odd about this response. Col. Cochran was not the Bentwaters AFB Base Commander back in December, 1980, when the UFO incident occurred. So, one must ask how did he know that unusual events had transpired if there were no records being held there? Note that he wrote, “There was allegedly some strange activity near RAF Bentwaters…”. Had he hear about the incident of others who were there in 1980? Or, did he review records that did exist on the base, but refuse to acknowledge and release them? Also of note is the statement “…therefore, no official investigation was conducted by the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing. Thus, the records you request do not exist.”. Would the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing be the necessarily be the investigating body of any UFO incident just because they were hosted at the base? Admittedly, personnel assigned to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing were involved in the twonight UFO fiasco, but that doesn’t mean they would be part of any long term investigation. Probably the most likely investigative body would have been one of the USAF’s Office of Air Force Investigation (AFOSI) desks in Europe. But I will keep that issue for another time. Finally, Col. Cochran also stated in his letter that “…no photos of the alleged craft were taken by the Air Force.”. Again, how did he know this so matteroffactually? Again, as I highlighted above, no records, apparently, were stored at Bentwaters AFB. Col. Cochran’s FOI response to Lawrence Fawcett is imaged below.


Less than a month later, on the 7th of May, 1983, to be exact, CAUS researcher Robert Todd filed an FOIA request with the USAF’s 513th Combat Support Group for information relating to the UFO indecent. At the time, the 513th CSG provided records management for the Third Air Force (3AF), which was assigned to USAFE. A reply came, dated the 14th of June, 1983, from Col. Peter Bent, who was the Commander of the 513th CSG. It stated:

“I am pleased to be able to respond to your request for information dated 7th May 1983. As you may now know, the 513th Combat Support Group provides document management services for Headquarters, Third Air Force. After extensive effort, we are able to successfully answer your four separately directed requests for information concerning unexplained lights on 27th December 1980.

It might interest you to know that the US Air Force had no longer retained a copy of the 13 January 1981 letter written by Lt. Col. Charles I. Halt. The Air Force file copy had been properly disposed of in accordance with Air Force Regulations. Fortunately, through diligent inquiry and the gracious consent of Her Majesty’s government, the British Ministry of Defence and the Royal Air Force, the US Air Force was provided a copy for you. We trust this adequately explains the initial inability to provide a favourable response.”

It was with this letter that the absolutely infamous “Halt Memo” was attached. For the purposes of this report, I don’t need to discuss that document, except for to say that it was a January 13th, 1980 letter, of sorts, typed on letterheaded stationary held by the 81st Combat Support Group at Bentwaters AFB and signed by Lt. Col. Charles I. Halt, who was the Deputy Base Commander at the time. It chronologically laid out the extraordinary UFO event, which personally involved Col. Halt himself. A copy was sent to the British Minitry of Defence (MOD), as Col. Halt believed they should be appraised of the incident. As for the above FOI response from Col. Bent, it is noteworthy that he stated:

“…the US Air Force had no longer retained a copy of the 13 January 1981 letter written by Lt. Col. Charles I. Halt. The Air Force file copy had been properly disposed of in accordance with Air Force Regulations.”

Does this mean that copies of the “Halt Memo” were held somewhere within the USAF? That’s how it reads. It is important here to note that Col. Halt kept a personal copy of the document for himself. And there was obviously the copy he furnished to the MOD. But Col. Bent specifically states “…the US Air Force had no longer retained a copy…” and “The Air Force file copy had been properly disposed of…”. Where, within the USAF, were more copies “Halt Memo” held before they were “disposed of”? And, far more importantly, can we be satisfied that the memo was the only relevant record filed? All on its own? What about other records? Even a routing slip? This is very important. The USAF has always managed to stonewall UFO researchers by stating that there was no records created regarding the event, or, as we see here, whatever records were created were very slim pickings and seemed to be “disposed of” within a couple of years after the alarming incident. Below I have imaged the above mentioned reply letter to Todd.


Another set of documents of interest are from the USAF Manpower Personnel Center (AFMPC) stationed at Randolph Air Force base, Texas. Researcher John Kyniston had the Search Office (AFMPC/D003) furnish him with a number of Form 113’s for a number of alleged witnesses to the UFO incident. A Form 113 is used by the USAF to trace the locations of serving personnel. MUFON Director Walter H. Andrus Andrus sent these to researcher Ray Boeche, with a two page cover letter dated August 21st, 1985. Below is Page 1 of the cover letter, listing the current (at the time) whereabouts of six personnel, including Col. Charles I. Halt, Maj. Gen. Gordon E. Williams, Sgt. John F. Burroughs, Lt. Col. Malcom S. Zickler, Col. Theodore J. Conrad and Col. Sam P. Morgan Jr.


The actual Form 113’s – where the six above mentioned witnesses were still serving – are imaged here below.



























Furthermore, Robert Kyniston was also furnished with four more Form 113’s for servicemen who had moved on from the USAF, or who could not be identified at that time as being with the USAF or not. Those men were Maj. Drury, Col. Jack Cochran, Airman Steve La Plume (though there is a question mark as to exact rank here) and Lt. Englund. These Form 133’s are imaged  below.







            Finally, a July 32, 1985 form, with the subject line reading “Locator Information”, was released to John Kyniston for one Sgt. Adrian Bustinza. The AFMPC were not able to provide him with a standard Form 113 for reasons unknown. A box is ticked next to the pre-printed “Remarks” statement:

“Our research reveals that this individual has separated from the USAF, therefore his current address is unavailable, and we are unable to forward mail.”

This page is imaged below.


In my Part 2 of this series, I will continue extract new records that probably need to be seen. One of the first things veteran Australian researcher Keith Basterfield imparted to me, upon working together for the first time some years ago, was that primary source material was usually the most reliable. That rings true on a case like the Rendlesham incident. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 2

  

In Part 1 of this series “OPREP–3 - A Classified US Military Reporting Channel For UFO Incidents?” I discussed a US military–wide reporting channel known as the “Operational Reporting” system, shortened often to “OPREP”. I highlighted that one category of OPREP, namely category 3, is defined as a serious “Event/Incident”, and that UFO, or UFO–like events, had been reported directly to the highest levels of command in the 1970’s. Those events included the reporting of intrusive “unknown helicopters” and “objects” from nuclear–armed United States Air Force (USAF) Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases including Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, Malmstrom AFB, and a host of others. Also, the United States Navy’s (USN) Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range suffered a mysterious UFO event that was reported via the OPREP–3 system. Most importantly, these cases are not hand–down–rumours, but are supported by hundreds of officially release records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by researchers. I made specific efforts to image those records, and will continue to do so in this Part 2.

OPREP–3 reporting instructions are laid out in a variety of publications at different levels of the US military. Perhaps the highest level doctrines to mention OPREP–3’s are those promulgated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). One recent example is a manual titled “Joint Reporting System Situation Monitoring Manual”, and was promulgated on the 31st of January, 2011. It is coded “CJCSM 3150.05D” and is unclassified in entirety. Beneath the CJCS, all the Unified Combatant Command’s (UCC) and Major Commands (MAJCOM) of the US Armed Forces publish their own versions of OPREP–3 doctrine, each slightly different.

For example, US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) maintains a 16th of April, 2009 instruction titled “US Northern Command 10–211 Operational Reporting” (NCI 10-211). Chapter 2, is headed “OPREP-3 REPORTING PROCEDURES” and the first paragraph states, in part:

“The OPREP-3 reporting system is used by military units at any level of command to report significant events and incidents to the highest levels of command. OPREP-3 reports use command and control channels to immediately notify commanders of any event or incident, which may attract international, national, or significant news media interest. Reports must be timely, concise, and include sufficient information to allow action addressees to fully understand the situation and provide information to other levels, as required. The report is established to provide time-sensitive information on which to base an appropriate response to any significant event or incident that has occurred or is in progress…”

Another example is titled “Air Force Instruction 10–206 Operational Reporting” (AFI 10–206), and promulgated by the Secretary of the United States Air Force (SEC–USAF) on 15th October, 2008. Chapter 3, titled “Event/Incident Report (OPREP-3)”, states, in the opening paragraph:

“Command Posts use the OPREP-3s to immediately notify commanders of any significant event or incident that rises to the level of DoD, AF, or MAJCOM interests. Submit the applicable OPREP-3 regardless of whether or not the event is being reported through other channels…”

Furthermore, there are different “categories” of OPREP-3’s that, while not mandatory, can be chosen by for specific events or levels of interest. Those categories are distinguished by certain “flagwords” that are attached to the OPREP-3 report. Paragraph 3.2. of AFI 10–206 states:

“OPREP-3 reports categorize events or incidents according to their nature. FLAGWORDs associated with each category aid prompt transmission, processing, and distribution of the reports by alerting people to their importance. The following flag word reports make up the OPREP-3 system.”

Of interest to us are the flagwords “PINNACLE” and “BEELINE”. Another one, used only by the United States Navy (USN), is “NAVY BLUE”. When fully typed out, these flagwords will appear immediately after the term “OPREP-3”. An example would be “OPREP-3 BEELINE”. Often, the full term is shortened so the flagword appears as a single letter. “OPREP-3 BEELINE”, hence, is shorted to “OPREP-3B”. It is also important to note that these flagwords, and their meaning, has barely changed in forty years. The category which may be the most important to us is a called a “PINNACLE”, or “OPREP-3P”.  AFI 10–206, Paragraph 3.2.1. states:

“PINNACLE (OPREP-3P). This message is used by any unit to provide the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and, as appropriate, combatant commands and services with immediate notification of any incident or event where national-level interest is indicated…”

The Instruction goes on to state the kinds of “incidents” or “events” that would cause the transmission of an OPREP-3P. Of interest is Paragraph 3.2.1.6. states:

“Involves unidentified objects detected by a missile warning system.”

Of course, we have seen an OPREP-3 PINNACLE used for “unidentified object” intrusions before. As I highlighted in Part 1 of this series, the Command Post at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, sent an “IMMEDIATE” telex to the Military Command Center (NMCC), and other commands, on November 1st, 1975, which contained this line of text:

“JOPREP JIFFY 0092/FFDPO0/IN/OPREP–3 PINNACLE”

And, below that, the message stated:

“…A VISUAL SIGHTING OF AN UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT WAS REPORTED AT LORING CRC 4NM NNW OF LORING AFB.”

There is no ambiguity here. OPREP-3P reporting of UFO events is clearly something that the US government would prefer to stay tightly within its control. The question is, just how many have there been in the last four decades? 

Another category of OPREP-3 which we have seen before is a “BEELINE”, or “OPREP-3B”. AFI 10–206, paragraph 3.2.12. states:

“BEELINE (OPREP-3B). Used to report any event or incident that requires Air Force-level interest, but not requiring OPREP-3 PINNACLE reports. Although the report normally remains within US Air Force channels, commanders may add other addressees, as appropriate to avoid duplicate reporting. AF may make BEELINE information available to agencies outside the Air Force (e.g., NMCC, State Department) based on the situation.”

We have seen the flagword “BEELINE” before. On the 30th Oct, 1975, Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan, the former home of nuclear-armed 379th Bomb Wing, endured an event involving low flying, “unidentified aircraft” which unexpectedly encroached into the “no fly” airspace above the base. A number of OPREP-3’s were sent from the Wurtsmith AFB Command Post to SAC Headquarters, and other areas of the USAF, and, indeed, one of them was an OPREP-3 BEELINE, for which we have the actual telex documents for. The key line of text states:

“UNCLASSIFIED JOPREP JIFFY OC65 /FFD640/IN/OPREP-3 BEELINE/7 6-02 1-01”

There are other OPREP-3 flagwords that could potentially be used when submitting a UFO incident to higher commands. One is a special type of OPREP-3 PINNACLE called a “NUCFLASH”, or “OPREP-3PNF”. Paragraph 3.2.2. of AFI 10–206 states:

“PINNACLE NUCFLASH (OPREP-3PNF). Used to report an event, accident, or incident that could create the risk of a nuclear war. This message has the highest precedence in the OPREP-3 reporting structure. Report any of the following as an OPREP-3PNF:

3.2.2.1. Ballistic missile launch or space launch.

3.2.2.2. Space objects reentering the earth’s atmosphere.

3.2.2.3. Loss, potential loss or degradation of US military space capability when the loss or degradation is because of actions by a suspected or known hostile source.

3.2.2.4. Reports of cruise missiles or non-friendly, non-US or non-allied aircraft not on an approved flight plan that could pose a threat.”

In a charged and rapidly changing environment, could a serious UFO event be mistaken for a “ballistic missile launch or space launch” or “space object reentering the earth’s atmosphere”, especially when very little is yet known about the event? What about “reports of cruise missiles or non-friendly, non-US or non-allied aircraft not on an approved flight plan...” and other similar events? The reporting of urgent space-borne events using OPREP-3 PINNACLE procedures is not new. The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADC) maintained a joint regulation, issued on the 1st of May, 1983, titled “NORAD/ADC Regulation 55-103 Operations – Errant Launch/Space Event Reporting” (N/A REG 55-103). Paragraph 3.c.1. states that the old United States Space Command’s (SPACECOM) Space Control Center (SCC) and Space Surveillance Center (SSC) will, during unusual or unexpected space activity:

“Determine reportability for all objects which fail to achieve a planned orbit, objects already in orbit which decay or that are predicted to decay, deorbits, and satellite breakups. If these objects are reportable, notify the… …NMCC via an OPREP-PINNCACLE report (significant space event).”.

This page is imaged below.


The US Navy (USN) has some of its own flagwords for OPREP-3 reporting. One of them is “NAVY BLUE”. As I discussed in Part 1 of this series, the USN’s Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range in Florida was visited by an unidentifiable object on the night of May 14th, 1978. There was primary radar confirmation, evasive action by the unknown entity, and significant visual confirmation from the ground. It was an “OPREP-3 NAVY BLUE” which alerted the Commander–in–Chief of the USN’s Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANFLT) about the incident. The two page telex states:

“NAS JACKSONVILLE /OPREP–3 NAVY BLUE 1718002 MAY 78/006”

So what does the flagword “NAVY BLUE” mean? The USN’s Information Dominance Corps (IDC) publishes a booklet of administrative doctrine titled “Information Dominance - Administration (104)” that describes an OPREP–3 NAVY BLUE as being:

“Used to provide the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and other Naval commanders notification of incidents that are of high Navy, as opposed to nation-level, interest.”

Likewise, the United States Marine Corps also promulgates OPREP-3 NAVY BLUE reporting in a June 8th, 2007 Order, titled “Marine Corps Order 3504.2” (MCO 3504.2). It states:

“OPREP-3 NAVY BLUE (OPREP-3NB). This report provides the Chief of Naval Operations, through the Navy Operations Center, information on any significant event or incident that is not of national-level interest.”

An OPREP-3NB may not be as gravely serious as, say, an OPREP-3P, but the fact that the Chief of Naval Operations was urgently made aware of a UFO incident via any system at all is still worthy of discussion. Again, like the other OPREP-3 reportable events I have detailed above, how many UFO-associated OPREP-3NB’s have been sent to-and-fro within the USN in the last few decades?

Speaking of recipients, just what sort of commands and agencies receive OPREP-3 reports? If sent from within the USAF, a base commander, or anyone else cleared to use the OPREP-3 system, has a degree of discretion regarding who is on the “distribution list” of the report. Some of the addressee’s are pre-arranged, and some depend on the type of serious event in progress. All OPREP-3P’s must be sent, at minimum, to the National Military Command Center, some USAF Major Commands (MAJCOM’s), the White House and State Department, and often the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), and other areas within the wider Department of Defence (DOD). An OPREP-3B will normally remain within USAF channels, including the MAJCOM the base is subordinate to, plus nearby bases and, if appropriate, the NMCC. And OPREP-3H also usually stays within the USAF MAJCOM that the base is organised under, and often not much further. A good example of a distribution list that we know received an UFO related OPREP-3, in this case a PINNACLE, is the November 1st, 1975 incident that plagued Loring AFB. Imaged below is the Loring OPREP-3 PINNACLE report. The top two thirds of the page contain the distribution list.


Included here is the NMCC, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJSC), the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SJCS), the State Deaprtment, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agancy (CIA), the White House, the USAF’s Major Command Coordination Center (MCCC), the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC) at Fort Ritchie, NORAD’s Combat Operations Center (COC), plus various Strategic Air Command (SAC) and 8th Air Force components. And that’s not even all of them. The fact that any of them received UFO reports of any sort, especially the calibre of these areas of the US government, is somewhat alarming. Consider what the US government had systematically been saying since the 1960’s. Researchers are well aware that the Secretary of the USAF, Robert C. Seamans, Jr, famously announced, on the 17th of December, 1969, that no US military agency will continue the reporting, or receiving of reports, of UFO events, and, that:

“No UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security.”

Nothing has changed. The US government still recycles the same tired lines of dogma that three generations of researchers have had to listen to. That OPREP-3 reports have contained UFO situations is undeniable. Have there been many more? And what sort of analysis of such events has been conducted? Currently, access to OPREP-3 records is impossible. But that may soon be about to change. In Part 3 of this series, which I had hoped would be quite short, I will detail my, and colleague David Charmichael’s, struggles to see that the Office of the Secretary of Defence (OSD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) release OPREP-3’s, the work of others before us. I shall also reveal the contents of an OSD reply letter sent to UK researcher Dr. Armen Victorian in the 1990’s, which, despite being twenty years old, could be one of the most important lead we’ve had in decades.