"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting
Channel For UFO Incidents?
Recently, in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, I have highlighted the use of the US military’s OPREP–3 system to report apparent UFO events which have occurred over military installations, and, in air defence environments. OPREP–3 is short for “Operational Reporting – 3”, one of a number of distinct categories of operational report channels. A December, 1993 dated Instruction, titled “Joint Reporting Structure Event and Incident Reports”, and promulgated by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), establishes that:
“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.”.
As I have previously outlined in this series, both Loring AFB and Wurtsmith AFB were, in late 1975, the scene of unusual and unexpected “over flights” or “intrusions” by objects variously described as “unidentified helicopters”, “unknown helicopters”, “unidentified flying objects”, “unknown objects” and “UFOs”. Both these bases were under USAF Stratigic Air Command (SAC) control, and both held nuclear weapons. These events were reported, via the OPREP–3 channel, to the National Military Command Center (NMCC), the Strategic Air Command Headquarters (SAC HQ), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), the USAF’s Major Command Coordination Center (MCCC), the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), the USAF’s Air Force Intelligence Service, (AFIS), the 8th Air Force’s Headquarters (8AF HQ), and a number of other components within the US military and intelligence community. Also, other SAC bases, including Malmstrom AFB and Minot AFB, plus Canada’s Falconbridge Air Station, were likewise intruded on by unidentified aircraft, or, at minimum, some sort of unusual phenomena. As the months went on into 1976, other USAF installations, including Fort Richie AFB, Cannon AFB and Eglin AFB were the scene of similar aerial disturbances. Judging by tantalising references in officially released records, there may have been similar events at other US military installations too.
I will not overly detail each of the events, at each base, here. Such work has been published previously, and in great detail. The 1984 book “Clear Intent”, later published as “UFO Cover Up: What the Government Won’t Say”, by researchers Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett, remains the most detailed, and fully referenced, work regarding the 1975 “over flights”. In fact, the chapters of “Clear Intent” which detail these odd events are available online. To read about the events at Loring AFB, see here. For the events at Malmstrom AFB see here. Finally, the Wurtsmith AFB events, and those at other bases, can be seen here.
In this Part 5, I will be highlighting never–before–seen US military documents which demonstrate, unmistakably, a considerable level of investigation done into the 1975 “over flights”. I will not attempt to assemble the entire investigative history that was performed by interested commands and agencies, as such an undertaking would probably require a book–length treatment, and, many of the documents involved remain classified, or, will have been presumably destroyed. Rather, I will present, and briefly discuss, a mixture of records which simply provide a snapshot of government UFO investigation, evaluation, and very high level concern.
A few years beforehand, as 1969 rolled over into 1970, the USAF’s long running UFO study program, Project Blue Book, was, with the assistance of Dr. Edward U. Condon’s flawed Colorado University “UFO Study”, shut down. It is commonly accepted that, from 1970 onwards, the US military ceased accepting UFO reports, and, furthermore, would certainly not investigate or evaluate them. A 1993 version of the USAF’s shameful UFO “Fact Sheet”, titled “Unidentified Flying Objects And Air Force Project Blue Book: Fact Sheet”, states:
“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force…”
This statement, as we shall see, is absolute nonsense, and no amount of trickery by debunkers can change that fact.
Between 1977 and 1983, the details of the 1975 wave of unknown entities flying over military bases became alarmingly clear. During that time, researchers Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett and Robert Todd, were submitting literally hundreds of FOI requests to dozens of US military commands and centers, and even non–military entities like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for UFO or “over flight” records. Almost every single FOI request resulted in an admission that classified records were being held, and, thousands of pages were actually released. As stated above, I aim to concentrate on material which highlights investigation, evaluation and high level concern by the US military, while moving away from initial reports and base alerts.
In a five part telex, reproduced over two pages by Aerospace Defence Command’s (ADCOM) Directorate of Administration for FOI release purposes, the situation over five US and Canadian bases is made very clear. The 11th of November, 1975, telex was sent from the NORAD’s Commander–in–Chief (CINCNORAD) at Ent AFB in Colorado, to 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 contents act as a reasonable summary, though rather brief, of the situation over Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, and Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge. With slight changes in formatting, for ease–of–reading purposes, the message states in full:
“SUBJ: SUSPICIUS UNKNOWN AIR ACTIVITY
THIS MESSAGE IN FIVE PARTS.
PART I. SINCE 28 OCT 75 NUMEROUS REPORTS OF SUSPICIOUS OBJECTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED AT THE NORAD COC. RELIABLE MILITARY PERSONNEL AT LORING AFB, MAINE, WURTSMITH AFB, MICHIGAN, MALMSTROM AFB, MT, MINOT AFB, ND, AND CANADIAN FORCES STATION, FALCONBRIDGE, ONTARIO, CANADA, HAVE VISUALLY SIGHTED SUSPICIOUS OBJECTS.
PART II. OBJECTS AT LORING AND WURTSMITH WERE CHARACTERIZED TO BE HELICOPTERS. MISSILE SITE PERSONNEL, SECURITY ALERT TEAMS, AND AIR DEFENSE PERSONNEL AT MALMSTROM MONTANA REPORT AN OBJECT WHICH SOUNDED LIKE A JET AIRCRAFT. FAA ADVISED THERE WERE NO JET AIRCRAFT IN THE VICINITY. MALMSTROM SEARCH AND HEIGHT FINDER RADARS CARRIED THE OBJECT BETWEEN 9,500 FT. AND 15,600 FT. AT A SPEED OF SEVEN KNOTS. THERE WAS INTERMITTENT RADAR CONTACT WITH THE OBJECT FROM 080753Z THRU 09002 NOV. 75. F–106S SCRAMBLED FROM MALMSTROM COULD NOT MAKE CONTACT DUE TO DARKNESS AND LOW ALTITUDE. SITE PERSONNEL REPORTED THE OBJECT AS LOW AS 200 FT AND SAID THAT AS THE INTERCEPTORS APPROACHED THE LIGHTS WENT OUT. AFTER THE INTERCEPTORS HAD PASSED THE LIGHTS CAME ON AGAIN, ONE HOUR AFTER THEY RETURNED TO BASE. MISSILE SITE PERSONNEL REPORTED THE OBJECT INCREASED TO A HIGH SPEED, RAISED IN ALTITUDE AND COULD NOT BE DISCERNED FROM THE STARS.
PART III. MINOT AFB ON 10 NOV REPORTED THAT THE BASE WAS BUZZED BY A BRIGHT OBJECT THE SIZE OF A CAR AT AN ALTITUDE OF 1000 TO 2000 FT. THERE WAS NO NOISE EMITTED BY THE VEHICLE.
PART IV. THIS MORNING, 11 NOV 75, CFS FALCONBRIDGE REPORTED SEARCH AND HEIGHT FINDER RADAR PAINTS ON AN OBJECT 25 TO 30 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTH OF THE SITE RANGING IN ALTITUDE FROM 26,000 FT. TO 72,000 FT. THE SITE COMMANDER AND OTHER PERSONNEL SAY THE OBJECT APPEARED AS A BRIGHT STAR BUT MUCH CLOSER. WITH BINOCULARS THE OBJECT APPEARED AS A 100 FT. DIAMETER SPHERE AND APPEARED TO HAVE CRATERS AROUND THE OUTSIDE.
PART V. BE ASSURED THAT THIS COMMAND IS DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AND PROVIDE SOLID FACTUAL INFORMATION ON THESE SIGHTINGS. I HAVE ALSO EXPRESSED MY CONCERN TO SAFOI THAT WE COME UP SOONEST WITH A PROPOSED ANSWER TO QUERIES FROM THE PRESS TO PREVENT OVERREACTION BY THE PUBLIC TO REPORTS BY THE MEDIA THAT MAY BE BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION. TO DATE EFFORTS BY AIR GUARD HELICOPTERS, SAC HELICOPTERS AND NORAD F–106S HAVE FAILED TO PRODUCE POSITIVE ID.”
On one hand, statements like “Objects at Loring and Wurtsmith were characterized to be helicopters…” and “There was intermittent radar contact with the object…” imply that the unknowns were indeed, at Wurtsmith and Loring at least, just helicopters, and, at Malmstrom, nothing may have been in the skies at all. However, a sizeable number of details presented here are anything but mundane. What do we make of the fact that, at Falconbridge:
“…search and height finder radar paints on an object 25 to 30 nautical miles south of the site ranging in altitude from 26,000 ft. to 72,000 ft. The site commander and other personnel say the object appeared as a bright star but much closer. With binoculars the object appeared as a 100 ft. diameter sphere and appeared to have craters around the outside.”
And at Minot AFB:
“Minot AFB on 10 Nov reported that the base was buzzed by a bright object the size of a car at an altitude of 1000 to 2000 ft. There was no noise emitted by the vehicle.”
No one fail to see that these reported particulars characterize something very unusual. Finally, it is important to note that the CINCNORAD exhibits quite a degree of concern over the situation:
“Be assured that this command is doing everything possible to identify and provide solid factual information on these sightings. I have also expressed my concern to SAFOI that we come up soonest with a proposed answer to queries from the press to prevent overreaction by the public to reports by the media that may be blown out of proportion. To date efforts by air guard helicopters, SAC helicopters and NORAD F–106s have failed to produce positive ID.”
So the CINCNORAD has “expressed” his “concern” to the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Information (SAFOI) that the public and press may show unwanted interest in these events? Seeing as NORAD, and other commands, still hadn’t, after two weeks, provided any explanations whatsoever for the unusual events, it isn’t surprising that they had become anxious. NORAD was doing “everything possible to identify and provide solid factual information on these sightings…”. This statement also demonstrates, as it should, a high level concern. Also, considering that many of initial reports were more “UFO–like” than descriptions of simple helicopters or airplanes, it is quite evident that NORAD had essentially shifted into UFO investigation. The two page telex is imaged below.
NORAD was but one of many commands that failed to come up with answers. On the 11th of November, 1977, Robert Todd sent a letter to the Secretary of the USAF (SEC–AF) which asked two straightforward questions regarding any final conclusions made by USAF authorities. On the 17th of November, 1977, Col. Charles H. Senn, Chief, Community Relations Division, of the SEC–AF’s Office of Information, came back with equally straight–forward answers. Col. Senn listed Todd’s questions in the one page reply, with answers beneath each:
“This is in response to your November 11, 1977 letter requesting answers to the following questions:
Q. Is it not true that the Air Force considers the UFO sightings (over Strategic Air Command bases in 1975) something other than isolated incidents?
A. There is no identification that these sightings are anything but isolated incidents.
Q. Has the Air Force’s Intelligence Service investigated these sightings, and if so, what conclusions were reached?
A. Yes, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), at the request of the Strategic Air Command, investigated the sightings at Loring AFB, Maine.
Their investigation did not reveal a cause for the sightings. No military or civilian aircraft were determined to be in the area at the time.”
Firstly, the notion that the USAF, and others, considered unknown aircraft or UFO events at five different US and Canadian bases, in the same two week period, as “isolated incidents” is highly debatable. Some released documents, especially those for public consumption, state that the incidents were thought to “isolated”. Some documents, however, state otherwise. For instance, the two page CINCNORAD telex which I discussed above clearly laid out all of the mysterious events in a single message. There is nothing “isolated” about that. Secondly, in relation to the USAF’s Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI) analysing the strange events, Col. Senn only mentions the incidents at Loring AFB as being “investigated”, but fails to mention the attention AFOSI gave to the events at Wurtsmith AFB and others. Most importantly, however, is the fact that there was sizeable investigation at all. It is one thing for military authorities to investigate straightforward helicopter intrusions, but when the terms “unidentified flying objects” and “UFOs” are repeatedly used, as seen in hundreds of pages of original message traffic and memoranda, the situation becomes more complex. Col. Senn’s reply letter is imaged below.
While AFOSI went about their ultimately fruitless enquiries, the Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS) and the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence at USAF Headquarters were also involved. Within raw intelligence records, as well a few examples of more refined memoranda, a number of internal USAF distribution addresses repeatedly appear. These terms are “INZ”, “INZA” and “INYSA”. Assuming they referred to specific intelligence and security areas within the USAF, Robert Todd sent a letter, dated the 13th of December, 1977, to Headquarters, Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS), asking for more information. On the 27th of December, 1977, the Chief of AFIS Administration, Capt. Barbara J. Barnett, came back with detailed reply:
“The designations INZ, INZA, INYSA are functional address symbols. These symbols, when used within a command or organisational entity, assure direct transmission and delivery of communication and allow for a maximum degree of standardization throughout the Air Force.
The designations referred to in the AFIS/INZ extract released to you are identified below.
a. INZ (AFIS/INZ) refers to the Aerospace Intelligence Division of the Air Force Intelligence Service.
b. INZA (AFIS/INZA) refers to the Editing, Briefing and Continuity Branch of the Aerospace Intelligence Division, Air Force Intelligence Service.
c. INYSA (AF/INYSA) refers to the Scientific and Technical Branch of the Directorate of Resource Management, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Headquarters, United States Air Force.”
With this, Todd had unmasked the Scientific and Technical Branch, Directorate of Resource Management, Air Force’s Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, as a UFO report addressee. More importantly, however, was the involvement of the Air Force Intelligence Service’s (AFIS) Aerospace Intelligence Division (INZ), and, one of its components, the Editing, Briefing and Continuity Branch (INZA). At minimum, both were on UFO report distribution lists. An AFIS publication, titled “History Of The Air Force Intelligence Service, 1st July 1973 – 30 June 1974” describes the Aerospace Intelligence Division as:
“The Aerospace Intelligence Division provides significant current intelligence support to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff (CSAF), the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, the Assistant chief of Staff Intelligence, and various other Air Staff elements.”
The same publication says of the Aerospace Intelligence Division’s Editing, Briefing and Continuity Branch:
“The primary function of the Editing, Briefing, and Continuity Branch is to prepare and present daily current intelligence briefing to the Chief of Staff, USAF, and senior Air Staff offices within Headquarters. The branch performed preliminary intelligence analysis of fast-breaking situations.”
The above highlighted letter is imaged below.
Robert Todd, logically, submitted FOI requests to AFIS and the Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence. The latter claimed that all their 1975 “over flight” records had been already destroyed. But the AFIS Chief of Administration, Capt. Barbara J. Barnett, came back, on the 9th of January, 1978, with a series of four “INZA Alert Officer Log” extracts. These logs were typed out by the on–duty Alert Officers at the the AFIS Aerospace Intelligence Division’s Editing, Briefing and Continuity Branch.
The first log entry, dated the 31st of October, 1975, reads:
“PER LTC. REDICAN’S DIRECTION. CONTACTED CIA OPS CENTER AND INFORMED THEM OF UNIDENTIFIED FLIGHT ACTIVITY OVER TWO SAC BASES NEAR CANADIAN BORDER. CIA INDICATED APPRECIATION AND REQUESTED THEY BE INFORMED OF ANY FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY.”
So the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Operations Center was being briefed by Air Force Intelligence? And, they “…indicated appreciation” and “requested they be informed of any follow up activity”. This wasn’t the only example of CIA involvement, as we shall see in due course.
The second INZA Alert Officer entry, dated November 3, 1975, discuss a little known fact regarding unusual events far from the US-Canadian border. It reads:
“RECEIVED CALL FROM AAC/IN.. THEY HAD SENT MESSAGE 012224, SUBJ: UNIDENT FOREIGN OBJECT TO INYSA AND WANTED TO KNOW IF INYSA HAD RECEIVED IT.. THEY WANTED GUIDANCE FROM INYSA.. DAY PEOPLE 4 NOV: HAV MR FOLEY (INYSA) CALL ELMENDORF AUTOVON 7549104 OR KY–3 4396.”
Alaska? This was the first reference to any unusual aerial activity not near US–Canadian border. Robert Todd asked the Headquarters, Alaskan Air Command (ACC), under the FOI Act, for any pertinent records related to “unidentified foreign objects” during the period in question, but, in a February 8th, 1978 reply letter, the AAC’s Deputy Director of Administration, Major Barry S. Oswell, stated that the material had already been destroyed. Beyond the above two INZA log entries, a further two extracts were provided to Robert Todd, but contained already discussed details regarding the sightings and radar hits at Malmstrom. One curious line, in the third extract, however, states, “The radars which picked up the objects were checked and no malfunctions or unusual propagation were detected.”. I have imaged the whole set of “INZA Alert Officer” log extracts below.
As mentioned above, the CIA Operations Center had been alerted by Air Force Intelligence, of the confusing aerial intrusions. The National Military Command Center (NMCC) also briefed the CIA, repeatedly, on the situation, as we shall see. Suspiciously, a significant number of FOI requests, submitted by Robert Todd, Barry Greenwood and Todd Zechel to the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, met with ongoing denials. Researchers had already obtained copies of four separate NMCC Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) “Talker” messages, as well as two NMCC DDO “Memorandum For The Record” documents. All listed the CIA on the distribution lists. Two of the DDO “Talker” messages were distributed with IMMEDIATE precedence, and one DDO Memorandum, with the subject line “AFB Penetration”, listed a specific CIA staffer, Mr. G. Cunningham, as the CIA representative who should deal with incoming information.
I will not present and discuss all six NMCC records that list the CIA as an addressee, but it is worth, for the sake of transparency, highlighting one of them. Dated the 29th of October, 1975, and signed by the NMCC’s DDO, Brig. Gen. C. D. Roberts, is a “Memorandum For The Record”. It reads:
“Subject: AFB Penetration
1. At 290200 EST AFOC informed NMCC that an unidentified helicopter, possibly two, had been sighted flying low over Loring AFB Maine, in proximity to a weapons storage area.
2. An Army National Guard helo was called in to assist in locating the unidentified helo(s).
3. NORAD was informed of the incident by SAC, requested and received authority from Canadian officials to proceed into Canadian airspace if necessary to locate the intruder.
4. At 0404 SAC Command Center informed NMCC that the army helo assisting on the scene had not sighted the unidentified helo(s).
5. A similar incident was reported at Loring the evening of 28 October 1975.”
The distribution list at the bottom of this memorandum, as I have pressed, included the CIA. The exact term listed is “CIA REP”, meaning “CIA Representative”. Interestingly, the CIA are but one of many addressees listed on this NMCC memorandum. Some of the others include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), the Director of the Joint Staff (DJS), twelve areas within the NMCC, the Chief of Staff, USAF (CSAF), the Operations and Evaluations Division of the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS), the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s (JCS) Western Hemisphere Military Desk (WEST HEM), representatives at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). I have imaged this document below.
The above mentioned NMCC memorandum indicates that helicopters were responsible for the sightings at Loring AFB. Unknown helicopters or not, a number of records from Loring, as well as witness testimony from those on the base, lean more towards an intruder, or intruders, that behaved unlike helicopters. The terms “UFO” and “unidentified object” come up in Loring AFB message traffic, including two OPREP–3 reports, as frequently as the term “helicopter”. This was certainly a fluid and confusing situation. Also, we see that a US Army National Guard helicopter was placed on alert for the purposes of identifying the intruders if, and when, they returned. Whatever, or whoever, was behind these sightings, has never been solved. No amount of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI), Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS) or Strategic Air Command (SAC) investigation and analysis has explained the events at Loring, or, any of the other bases.
To conclude, this series started out with the purpose of highlighting the fact that the US military has used, in the 1970’s at least, their OPREP–3 system to report UFO events over military installations, and, as it turns out, to report UFO’s in an air defence environment as well. Now, however, this work has morphed into the analysis of wider US military UFO investigation, evaluation and high level concern. In other words, the OPREP–3 reports themselves were an immediate paper trail, but the fallout that they caused was far greater. In my next entry in this series, I will continue to present investigative and analytical military documents which were created during, and after, the 1975 “over flights”.