United States Air Force (USAF) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Investigated UFO Cases Years After Project Blue Book Closed
Up until the end of 1969, the United States Air Force (USAF) was the United States government’s focal point for the collection, evaluation, and investigation of UFO cases. Of three formal UFO projects, the longest running was Project Blue Book. Controversial from its beginning in 1952, the Blue Book effort was a frequent public relations nuisance for the USAF, and was hardly the technically competent outfit it should have been. On several occasions the USAF tried to shuffle the program elsewhere, or shut it down entirely. Finally, on the 17th of December, 1969, the Secretary of the USAF, Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr., announced that Blue Book had finally concluded. The decision to close the project had been formalised in a memorandum to the USAF’s Chief of Staff, General John D. Ryan. This news was circulated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence (OASD) in an “Immediate Release” Public Affairs statement. From that day forth, anyone who enquired with the USAF, or the Department of Defence (DOD) in general, would receive a short USAF–issued publication which reflected their final stance on the UFO’s matter. Over the years, this publication has come in several guises, including “Fact Sheet, Unidentified Flying Objects”, “UFO Fact Sheet”, and “Fact Sheet, Information on UFOs”. Despite slight differences in title and layout, the information contained within these publications has been more–or–less the same for nearly five decades.
I have chosen, for reasons that will become embarrassingly clear, two sections of text found in these well–worn “Fact Sheets”. The first states:
“On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force program for the investigation of UFOs. The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled ‘Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects’; a review of the University of Colorado’s report by the National Academy of Sciences; past UFO studies; and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the past two decades.”
The second passage worth quoting claims:
“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, no evidence has been presented to indicate that further investigation of UFOs by the Air Force is warranted. In view of the considerable Air Force commitment of resources in the past and the extreme pressure on Air Force funds at this time, there is no likelihood of renewed Air Force involvement in this area.”
These statements were supposed to be absolute. The USAF had made the “…decision to discontinue UFO investigations…”. There is certainly no vagueness there. Equally unambiguous is that proclamation that “…no evidence has been presented to indicate that further investigation of UFOs by the Air Force is warranted…”. Finally, though not utterly unequivocal I suppose, is an assertion that “…renewed Air Force involvement in this area…” was very unlikely.
Digging a bit deeper, there are two issues with the above–mentioned statements that seasoned researchers eventually discover. The first involves the question of centralised UFO case investigation. Some scholars of the UFO topic have argued that what the USAF actually meant to say was that there would be no formal project to systematically filter and investigate UFO reports. That line of reasoning would have ample merit if it wasn’t for the numerous other statements made by the USAF. I possess, on file, literally dozens of 1970’s and 1980’s–era statements which specifically assert that UFO case investigation was being not undertaken at all, regardless of a Blue Book–like UFO project or not. Thus, the argument that the USAF intended to go on investigating UFO cases, just without a formal project focal point, is almost certainly wrong. Closely related to that issue is a second matter worth highlighting. It revolves around the receiving of UFO reports versus any further investigation efforts. It has been occasionally claimed that the USAF refused to even accept UFO reports after Blue Book closed. This assumption is entirely incorrect. I will briefly cover this issue in due course, but, the reality is that branches of the US military have maintained several reporting channels that can be, and have been, utilised for reporting UFO sightings, and, moreover, several of these channels have been designed specifically for UFO’s. Thus, the reporting of UFO events after the conclusion of Project Blue Book is rarely in question. Rather, it’s the formal investigation of UFO events that has been long denied. Simply put, there is a very big difference between UFO reporting and UFO case investigation.
My interpretation of the DOD’s officially stated posture on UFO investigation can be exemplified in a pair of reply letters sent to researcher Robert G. Todd in early 1975. On the 27th of March, 1975, Lieutenant Colonel Huge G. Waite, who was assigned to the US Army’s Office of the Chief of Information, Washington DC, told Todd that:
“The US Army does not investigate UFO reports, and as you probably know, the Air Force has terminated their project in this area. I have enclosed a fact sheet prepared by the Air Force which provides information regarding their discontinued involvement in Project Blue Book, code name for UFO sightings, and also where these records are now stored.”
Unsatisfied with this answer, Todd pushed the matter further with Lt. Col. Waite in a forceful reply dated the 14th of April, 1975. A few weeks later, on the 8th of May, 1975, Lt. Col. Waite came back with more detailed answers to Todd’s enquiries. Succinctly, he stated, in part:
“As to your request for information about ‘reporting procedures’ for UFO sightings and Army procedures for investigating UFO’s, I assure you that no such procedures exist. The Army, the other services, and the Department of Defense, endorse the position taken by the Air Force described in the attached fact sheet. To the extent that formal investigation of alleged UFO sightings occurs, it is done by private organizations, not by the U.S. military services. I regret that the Army can be of no further assistance in this matter.”
Lt. Col. Waite’s statements in these letters cannot be any clearer. Neither the US Army, nor anyone else in the US military, were investigating UFO sightings in the 1970’s. Unequivocally, he claimed that, “…the US Army does not investigate UFO reports…”. Further, he says that, “…to the extent that formal investigation of alleged UFO sightings occurs, it is done by private organizations, not by the U.S. military services…”. Lastly, he attempts to shut down the matter by tersely declaring, “…the Army can be of no further assistance in this matter.”. These authoritative proclamations by the Army sound final, and, moreover, would have been difficult for researchers to argue with.
It has now emerged, however, that the USAF, with contribution from the Federal Aviation Administration, engaged in UFO case “investigation and findings” well after Project Blue Book closed. And that is what this piece is about.
Todd’s reason for engaging the Army in the first place can be explained by a series of events which had occurred two years earlier. During the early 1970’s, the Army was involved in numerous unsolved and startling UFO cases. The most renowned incident occurred on the night of the 18th of October, 1973, near Mansfield, Ohio. Often referred to as the “Coyne case”, the crew an 83rd Amy Reserves Command helicopter was apparently buzzed by a large, elongated object during a training flight. Several pages of official Army records were released soon after the event. Barely two months prior, on the 8th of September, 1973, the 298th Military Police Company at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, endured a close encounter with a large, unidentifiable object while on a routine security patrol. The local Provost Marshall’s Office at nearby Fort Stewart generated a “Serious Incident Report” (SIR) for Army Headquarters. There were other UFO cases involving the Army, most of which are almost entirely unknown, and I aim to highlight them in the future. No sooner had these intrusive, multi–witness sightings occurred than the Army had another problem to deal with. Researcher Robert G. Todd, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, was the most prolific Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) user in the history of the UFO controversy. Todd’s tireless work has helped shape our understanding of governmental response to the UFO problem. Many of the thousands of pages of military records he obtained are only being analysed now. In Feburary, 1975, Todd embarked on a dogged campaign of FOI requesting and general letter–writing correspondence with two dozen US Army entities. From the Pentagon, right down to Battalion–level units, everyone was forced to humour Todd’s demands for straight answers.
This mountain of correspondence included a series of back–and–forth letters with the US Army’s huge Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker in Alabama. In the 1970’s, the facility was responsible for developing aviation doctrine and aircraft technology for the Army, and, moreover, it provided education and training to a large fraction of the Army’s core aviation and flight specialists. On the 17th of Feburary, 1976, Todd had evidently posed a number of questions regarding Army policy on UFO’s, as well as enquiries regarding specific UFO cases. While we do not have a copy of Todd’s letter, we do have a copy of the Army Aviation Center’s reply. And a significant reply it was. Dated the 20th of Feburary, 1976, and signed by the Center’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Herbert C. Strickland, Todd must have been rather taken aback by its candid and detailed admissions. Referencing Todd’s letter of the 17th of February, Strickland stated, in part:
“The agency responsible for the investigation of reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO’s) is the Senior Aviation Service, the United States Air Force (USAF), as designated by the Department of Defense. The USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
The responsibility of this installation for investigating aviation mishaps is limited to those accidents/incidents involving assigned aircraft which result in damage to property and injury or death of aircraft occupants. Investigations of aviation mishaps which do not involve damage, injury or death, such as the UFO incidents you mention, are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved. For that reason, your previous two queries were forwarded to the two military units involved in purported UFO incidents for direct response to you. In the case of UFO incidents, the USAF and FAA accomplish detailed follow–on investigations, if required.
Your question ‘Why was no investigation conducted in either case?’ should, therefore, be directed to the USAF or FAA.
As to your second question, ‘Is it official policy to ignore reports of UFO’s made by Army personnel?’, I can only advise you that if damage, injury or death occurred, such an accident/incident would be of major concern to safety investigators from the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS) and would be investigated…”
Strickland’s letter continued into a second page and advised Todd to study the work of anti–UFO debunker Phillip J. Klass. Further, Strickland offered Todd brief guidance on approaching the applicable Judge Advocate General of any Army units that happen to be involved in a UFO event. I have imaged Strickland’s two–page letter below.
Quite simply, the contents of Herbert C. Strickland’s letter are extraordinary. Firstly, it is revealed that the USAF is indeed the “agency responsible” for the “investigation” of UFO cases. This goes far beyond a situation where USAF entities had to begrudgingly accept the odd report. Secondly, we learn that “the USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)…”. Again, we see a clear reference to the “investigation” of UFO’s by the USAF. The added twist, obviously, is that the USAF further “coordinate” their “investigation and findings” with the America’s civil aviation authority, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)! We then see additional clarification, in second paragraph of the letter, concerning the investigation of UFO events by the USAF and FAA. Confessed is the fact that “the USAF and FAA accomplish detailed follow–on investigations, if required”. Thirdly, Strickland’s letter also discusses the investigative obligations of the Army Aviation Center. Importantly, we learn that the handling of UFO cases is not part of their mission, and, rather, they only deal with serious aviation accidents and other grave mishaps “which result in damage to property and injury or death of aircraft occupants”. However, Strickland does clearly state that UFO incidents involving Army aircraft “are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved”.
Before going further, one passage of Strickland’s letter caused me some initial confusion, and it worth clarifying this issue lest it causes readers any misunderstanding. Strickland mentions uses the phrase “Senior Aviation Service”, and I first throught that this was an actual USAF controlled entity, such as a cell within a larger USAF agency, or a specific office within one of the USAF’s many commands. However, I understand now that Strickland meant that the USAF is the “Senior Aviation Service”, and its main aviation service of the DoD. Strickland perhaps could have written something like, “The agency responsible… …is the Department of Defence’s senior aviation service, which is the United States Air Force (USAF)”. Whatever the exact wording, Strickland makes it quite clear that the USAF embarked on UFO case investigation, and the FAA followed closely.
These admissions utterly fly in the face of what the USAF, and other areas of the Department of Defence (DOD), were peddling after Project Blue Book ended in late 1969. Researchers have been asking the USAF, and the other branches of the Armed Forces, for information on UFO case investigation, as well as doctrinal policy regarding the UFO issue, for decades. Rarely has there been such candid and specific statements made on official letterhead. The DOD was, in the 1970’s and onwards, mailing out their “Fact Sheet” on UFO’s to anyone curious enough to ask. One passage of text, which I highlighted previously, begins with the statement, “the decision to discontinue UFO investigations…”. This is nonsense, clearly. Another issue is the fact that the DOD, and especially the USAF, have ceaselessly encouraged researchers to simply review existing Project Blue Book files, plus the even older Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) records, as they were quickly becoming available at Maxwell Air Force Base. There has never been any mention of newer UFO investigation files from the 1970’s or beyond, and this is an issue which needs urgent attention. In fact, there are so many issues here that one barely knows where to begin.
For starters, one is bound to ask where the Army Aviation Agency got their information, and why it was spelled out so clearly for Robert Todd, who was, after all, a civilian. In later correspondence with Herbert C. Strickland’s office, Todd learned that the Army Aviation Center had received their information from a Col. Samuel P. Kalagian. Based also at Fort Rucker, Col. Kalagian was the Deputy Commander of the Army Aviation Safety Board. Upon ascertaining this connection, Todd further discovered that Col. Kalagian had communicated, at some length, with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF) regarding the UFO issue. I will further detail these threads of correspondence in future reports, but it’s fair to say that Strickland’s letter to Todd was accurate and well informed. Why the OSAF was so candid with Col. Kalagian, who was subsequently just as candid with the Army Aviation Center and Strickland, is unknown. Most likely, the OSAF didn’t realise that Col. Kalagian’s enquiry was eventually going to find its way to Todd. If that explanation isn’t correct, then it’s possible that the OSAF staffers who handled Col. Kalagian’s UFO enquiry didn’t appreciate that there was a standard response about UFO’s which everyone seemed to get, no matter who they were. Whatever the reason, someone, at some point, was simply too forthcoming.
As stated, the USAF was “responsible” for the “investigation” of UFO reports, and they “coordinated” their “investigations and findings” with the FAA. In all these years, we have yet to see more than a very few examples of USAF–driven UFO investigation after Project Blue Book closed shop in late 1969. Likewise, we have hardly seen any investigative efforts by the FAA, with or without the USAF’s input, into UFO cases no matter what the time frame. The FAA investigation and report into the infamous Japan Airlines UFO incident over Alaska, which occurred on the 17th of November, 1986, is a rare exception, and it was primarily done, rightly or wrongly, to debunk the case. So, with the Army’s admissions to Robert Todd in mind, we must ask, and quite urgently, where are these “investigations and findings” into UFO cases in the 1970’s? Were they led solely by the USAF, and thus on USAF letterhead? Or were they joint USAF–FAA efforts by a combined committee or board? Were these “detailed follow–on investigations” highly classified? Were these investigations, and their “findings”, handled as aviation safety events? Or were they considered an intelligence and security matter? Or both? Where were the actual files generated? And which agencies were on the distribution lists?
Moving away from the USAF and FAA connection, Strickland’s letter also talks specifically about the US Army. Robert Todd had previously asked the question ‘Is it official policy to ignore reports of UFO’s made by Army personnel?’, and the answer Strickland gives is that “…if damage, injury or death occurred…” it would be a “…major concern to safety investigators from the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS) and would be investigated…”. One could ask how many of those sort of cases have there been? One would assume that such a scenario would be rare indeed, but how would we know? The US military haven’t been exactly honest with the public in the past, and that’s putting it mildly. I have not yet been able to review the history of the Army’s USAAAVS, but I do have some information about an agency with a similar mandate and mission, and it has occasionally dealt with major aerial mishaps where UFO’s were possibly involved.
For four decades, the USAF’s vital Air Force Inspection and Safety Center (AFISC) was located at Norton Air Force Base, California. Currently known as the Air Force Safety Center (AFSC), and now operating out of Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, the organisation has historically been charged with investigating aircraft accidents and other safety incidents for the USAF. I aim, in future, to discuss this agency at some length. For now, it’s worth mentioning that the old AFISC completed several air accident investigations in the 1950’s and 1960’s that possibly involved UFO’s. A handful of AFISC accident investigation files where UFO’s are discussed were released under the FOI Act in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but those few releases were massively incomplete. Entire portions of the files were stubbornly withheld. One particularly promising section in any AFISC investigation file is a segment titled “Board of Investigation Proceedings”. It gives the most complete and detailed account of the circumstances around a crash or other major air safety incident. So far, not one AFISC air accident file involving UFO’s has contained its “Board of Investigation Proceedings” section intact. So, if the USAF’s old AFISC was dealing with UFO–related aircraft accidents, why not the Army’s aforementioned USAAAVS? As we know, Strickland’s letter to Robert Todd raised the matter in the first place, and one wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the Army had dealt with major aviation mishaps where UFO’s were somehow part of the case.
Another issue raised in Strickland’s letter revolves around potential Army aviation mishaps that do not result in a major incident but are investigated nevertheless. Specifically, Strickland stated that “…investigations of aviation mishaps which do not involve damage, injury or death, such as the UFO incidents you mention, are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved…”. This implies that an Army unit, such as a Company or Battalion, would evaluate any non–serious incident that happened to involve UFO’s. This, I would hypothesise, doesn’t mean that every single UFO sighting from an Army owned aircraft was investigated. At the same time, however, it was Strickland who brought up the issue, and it can’t be brushed aside. Myriad questions arise from all this. If a UFO investigation was conducted at Company or Battalion level, say, who had jurisdiction over the files? Did higher commands wish to be notified? Were preliminary investigations done by the Commanding Officer of the Army unit? Was each case handled on an ad hoc basis? The list of questions is long indeed.
As for the actual paperwork generated during an Army unit–level UFO investigation, no matter how measly, it is highly likely that such files have now been destroyed. The Army can’t keep everything, and there are concise, detailed regulations instructing Army personnel on what records should be permanently archived, and what records should be destroyed. One example of 1970’s–era records management doctrine was “Army Regulation 340–16, Office Management, Safeguarding ‘For Official Use Only’ Information” (AR 340–16). It was promulgated by Headquarters, Department of the Army, on the 1st of May, 1970, and offers guidance on everything from how long records should be security classified before being downgraded, to how many years different categories of records should be retained before being shipped out to a more long–term facility for eventual archiving. Regarding records destruction, the news isn’t good. Military Police Reports, for instance, are destroyed after two years, or, when the unit owning such reports is deactivated. Serious Incident Reports, such as the one used during the Hunter Army Airfield UFO sighting in September, 1973, must be kept for three years before being declassified, and, then, can be destroyed providing the report isn’t being used in an investigation or for some other specific purpose. If, by chance, any Army UFO investigative files have survived, researchers would be now burdened with identifying what such paperwork was originally titled, and in what category of records they would have been stored. In sum, the Army were so good at convincing everyone that UFO’s weren’t in their jurisdiction, at unit level or otherwise, that hardly anyone bothered them over it.
That the US Army would task itself with investigating UFO events, either at unit level or at the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS), is one thing. Quite another is all this business about the USAF and FAA. The USAF was “responsible for the investigation” of UFO’s, and that the FAA participated. Both entities jointly embarked on “detailed follow–on investigations”. Yet, time after time after time, researchers and other interested parties, including the odd Congressman, were being fobbed off with the USAF’s lying “UFO Fact Sheet”. What about the United States Navy (USN)? Were they conducting any UFO investigations after Project Blue Book ended? In the 1970’s, researchers periodically asked the USN about their policy on UFO sightings and investigation. Their replies, of which we thankfully still have in hardcopy form, were often worse than the baloney coming out of the USAF. In fact, there is substantial evidence that the USN had far more involvement with the UFO matter than has been ever published, and I aim to report on this soon.
As I have mentioned, the US military always intended to maintain formal reporting channels for UFO sightings after Project Blue Book ended. This fact was admitted quite early on, but only though direct and repeated correspondence, and often inconsistently. For example, sometime in May of 1970, researcher George Earley sent a letter to Headquarters, USAF, asking which military entity would be now “responsible” for UFO sightings since Blue Book had been closed. Colonel William T. Coleman, who was the Chief of Public Information for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF), replied to Earley on the 26th of May, 1970, and stated the following:
“The Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) is responsible for unknown aerial phenomena reported in any manner, and the provisions of Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication (JANAP) 146 provides for the processing of reports.”
So, the Aerospace Defence Command (ADC) was “responsible for unknown aerial phenomena reported in any manner”. Further, a specific military–wide publication provided up–to–date guidance on “the processing” of UFO reports. Col. Coleman’s letter, of course, doesn’t mention anything regarding the investigation of reported UFO events. The last thing the USAF wanted in 1970 was another decade of public UFO debate or allegations of cover–up.
Another illustration of the US military’s post–Project Blue Book stance on UFO reporting is exemplified in a series of Congressional correspondence letters from early 1977. Boston–based researcher Barry Greenwood had, on more than one occasion, asked the USAF for some clarification on how they, or anyone else within the DOD, were handling UFO sightings since Project Blue Book had ended. Like most people, Greenwood received the standard “UFO Fact Sheet” and nothing whatsoever more. This, of course, utterly failed to answer his specific and fair questions about post–Blue Book military UFO cases. To get more forthright answers Greenwood wrote to Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey to see if he could obtain more information from the USAF on Greenwood’s behalf. On the 20th of April, 1977, Lieutenant Colonel John Farr, who was with the USAF’s Congressional Inquiry Division, sent his reply to Congressman Markey. It stated, in part:
“With regard to Mr. Greenwood’s desire for reports of current UFO sightings, a Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication, (JANAP 146) requires radio reports of any sighting which the pilot feels could be a threat to national security. Guidance in this directive could result in reports of UFOs. However, if such reports were made, they would be transient in nature with no permanent record or file maintained.”
Lieutenant Colonel Farr’s reply, as well as previously mentioned Col. Coleman letter, both mention a publication called “JANAP–146”. This refers simply to a piece of old doctrine known as “Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication No. 146”. Though now superseded by other publications, it contained a series of “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” (CIRVIS) procedures. Promulgated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and applicable to all branches of the US military, CIRVIS listed “Unidentified Flying Objects”, or “UFOs”, as being reportable by US military personnel. Other reportable sightings included “Missiles”, “Unidentified Aircraft” and “Formations of Aircraft”. Such reports were electronically submitted through nearby air defence installations to the Commander–in–Chief of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (CINC–NORAD). In late 1995, JANAP–146 was cancelled, and CIRVIS instructions were placed in an evolving series of newer doctrine, which started with “Air Force Manual 10–206 Operational Reporting” (AFM 10–206). UFO’s were still, even in the 2000’s and 2010’s, listed as CIRVIS–reportable objects. In September, 2011, CIRVIS procedures appeared to vanish. In future reports, I will discuss where they are now placed.
Going back to the Lt. Col. John Farr’s letter to Congressman Edward Markey, there are several important issues that need addressing. Firstly, Lt. Col. Farr states that reports would be “…transient in nature with no permanent record or file maintained”. This statement somewhat matches what other researchers have been told. For instance, Armen Victorian, a British–based researcher, was told that by NORAD’s Directorate of Public Affairs that copies of CIRVIS reports were routinely destroyed after six months. Destroyed or not, UFO’s were almost certainly being reported using the CIRVIS system. If they weren’t, it would have been advantageous for the USAF to just say so. As for the investigation of UFO events, it is entirely possible, especially considering the US Army’s staggering admissions to Robert Todd, that the USAF and the FAA were studying CIRVIS–submitted UFO sightings all along. They likely had no choice. After all, CIRVIS reporting dealt with what the military termed “vital intelligence sightings”. The reports themselves went through frontline air defence installations, and on to NORAD and ADC. Someone had to be watching.
I have raised the JANAP–146 CIRVIS issue because its existence was always an easy “go to” policy for the USAF when researchers asked questions about post–Blue Book UFO reporting. There were, however, numerous other channels that military personnel had available to them for UFO sightings. Another source of UFO reports were US and Canadian naval vessels. Since the early 1950’s, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have issued a series of “Merchant Ship Intelligence” (MERINT) instructions. Almost identical to CIRVIS procedures, MERINT requested that “Unidentified Flying Objects” be rapidly reported through a specific channel. A submitted MERINT report had to include a description of the sighting, which included the object(s) shape, size, color, any discernible features, associated sounds, direction of travel and duration of sighting. Historically, these reports went to the likes of the Commander–in–Chief, North American Air Defense Command (CINC–NORAD), the USN’s Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Canadian Navy’s Commander, Maritime Command, and the USN’s Director, Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center, (D–NOSIC). Though MERINT instructions were sometimes amalgamated with CIRVIS instructions into a single section of JANAP–146, some regional or command–level versions of MERINT were issued as well. For instance, the Commander, Military Sea Transportation Service, Far East, San Francisco, issued MERINT instructions throughout the Asia–Pacific region in June, 1967, within a publication titled “Military Sea Transportation Service, Far East, Instruction 3360.1A”. How many UFO sighting reports did such policy generate? And of those, how many were investigated?
Yet another source of UFO reports worthy of investigation was the US military’s “Operational Report  Serious Incident/Event” channel. Usually shortened to “OPREP–3”, these urgent, high level reports have, since the late 1960’s, been used by base commanders, unit commanders, and other frontline officers to alert the NMCC, CJCS, the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SJCS), the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the White House, and any applicable Major Commands (MAJCOM) of a rapidly developing incident or event which may affect national security, or become the source of considerable unwanted attention. Indeed, on at least five occasions that we know of, the OPREP–3 channel was used to report UFO’s that had intruded over military installations in the 1970’s. Moreover, the employment of OPREP–3’s for the reporting of alarming UFO events should have been known to us all along. Project Blue Book’s closure was partly authorised by Brig. Gen. Carrol H. Bolender, who was, at the time, the Deputy Director of Development, for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research and Development, USAF. Brig. Bolender’s contribution to Blue Book’s demise was his infamous three page “Bolender Memo”, or “Bolender Air Staff Summary”. Dated the 20th of September, 1969, and classified SECRET, Brig. Gen. Bolender stated that:
“Moreover, reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55–11, and are not part of the Blue Book system... …as already stated, reports of UFOs which could affect national security would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose.”
We already know about JANAP–146 and its CIRVIS UFO reporting procedures, but what about the reference to “Air Force Manual 55–11”? During the late 1960’s “Air Force Manual 55–11, Operations, Air Force Operational Reporting System” (AFM–55–11) detailed the vital “Air Force Operational Reporting System” (AFOREPS). The AFOREPS network included several operational reporting categories, and one of them was the OPREP–3 channel. In May, 1971, the OPREP–3 system was migrated to the other branches of the US military. As stated, OPREP–3’s were been used to report UFO’s near military installations. Brig. Gen. Bolender’s stipulation that “…unidentified flying objects which could affect national security…” be reported using such a system was evidently taken up.
On and on it goes. CIRVIS reports, MERINT reports, OPREP–3 reports, Serious Incident Reports… The USAF and, apparently, the FAA, had numerous, classified sources of UFO cases to investigate. Again, the US Army told Robert Todd that the “…USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)…”, and together they accomplished “…detailed follow–on investigations, if required…”. During the course of my research I have discovered several other channels utilised for UFO reporting. These include “Daily Spot Intelligence Reports” (DSINTREP), which are swiftly lodged at the Headquarters of the Numbered Air Forces, and “Unit Reports” (UNITREP) which are submitted by US Coast Guard ships. There are more. The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has, or at least had, numerous instructions and command directives that specifically mention “Unidentified Flying Objects”, “UFOs” and “Objects”. This would be fine if they were solely talking about stray aircraft, unknown aircraft, balloons and the like. But those more mundane aerial events were already covered in other doctrine. The old Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS) was involved, at minimum, in the logging and preliminary assessment of UFO cases. Specifically, AFIS’s small Aerospace Intelligence Division (AFIS/INZ) handled UFO events for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the 8th Air Force in 1975. Likewise, and unsurprisingly, the USAF’s Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence (ACS/I) dealt with UFO conundrums. Specifically, ACS/I’s highly classified Scientific and Technical Branch, which was located within the Directorate of Resource Management, was tasked with keeping track of USAF generated UFO sightings in the 1970’s. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In some ways, the US Army’s revelations to Robert Todd should be of little surprise. The signs were there all along. The military was still dealing heavily with the UFO topic after Project Blue Book ended. But now we have evidence of wider, multi–agency UFO “investigation” rather than just the receiving of reports. The USAF and the FAA, in hindsight, were should always have been considered the most logical combination of bodies to investigate UFO events, at least within the United States. NORAD too has investigated UFO events, and not merely of the unidentified airplane flavour. Further, we now know that the US Army was quite prepared to deal with UFO’s too. Experience tells us that the declassified records we have thus far acquired will be dwarfed by what is not yet available. The entire history of governmental UFO secrecy is likely far richer than anyone initially envisaged.