The United States Air Force, The Joint Intelligence Committee, And A Top Secret UFO Report
Anyone familiar with the United States Air Force’s (USAF) early response to the UFO phenomenon should be familiar with at least a handful of the widely studied case reports, command-level letters, and draft memoranda. The famous “Twining Letter” springs to mind. Lt. Gen. Nathan Twining’s classified three page masterpiece, written in September, 1947, to the mighty Brig. Gen. George Schulgen outlined that the current opinion of the Air Material Command (AMC) on UFO’s was that “the phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious”. The document itself has been reproduced from the holdings the National Archives countless times in books and on websites, so much so that even many casual readers on the UFO subject have seen it in some form. There are scores of powerful and potent records, signed by the highest ranking military officers in America and only ever meant for restricted readership.
However, there are some documents of, I believe, equal importance, which have not been seen by a wide audience, yet their contents are just as vital to piecing together the early history of how the US military handled the UFO conundrum. One such document is titled “Report by the Director of Intelligence, USAF, to the Joint Intelligence Committee on Unidentified Aerial Objects” and was issued on April 27, 1949, classified Top Secret. I believe this is the first time this document has been available for a wide audience to see in its original form.
In the bulky 1949 USAF’s Director of Intelligence “General Correspondence” file of nearly 2000 pages regarding the topic of “Flying Discs”, there exist various papers containing references to a special report the USAF had written for the US’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which was headed by representatives of the main intelligence agencies of each military service. Like so many USAF Intelligence files, researchers for Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) had assumed that this yet unseen report was classified “Secret” and attempted to obtain it under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from 1984 onwards.
After 13 years of searching, the JIC report was finally found in 1997 at the National Archives II in Maryland by researcher Jan Aldrich. Specifically, it languished in the USAF Director of Intelligence file entitled “General File, July 1945 - December 1954: Records Relating to the Requirements for and the Collection and Dissemination of Intelligence”. The report had not been found previously because it had been classified “Top Secret” and was not held in the “Secret” records previously checked by the National Archives during previous in response to FOIA requests. The Archives rarely searches when dealing with FOIA requests, especially when the topic is UFO’s.
In the words of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS):
“The Air Force sent an “Unidentified Aerial Objects” presentation, classified Top Secret, with an Appendix – a summary of Air Force actions – to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) on April 27, 1949.;
“The JIC document has eluded researchers for years. In it one can see the seeds of the later Project Grudge report. It contains a summarized history of the Air Force’s early attempt to investigate UFO reports.”
I do not attempt here to analyse the contents of this report. Others can, and have, done a better job than I could do. The purpose of presenting this document here is simply to get the actual material out for all to see. Having said that, I would like to highlight three of the more persuasive statements in the report:
“16. c. Creditable unexplained incidents which might involve the use of atomic powered craft of u[nu]sual design should be considered jointly by the Atomic Energy Commission and highly competent aerodynamicists to determine the necessity for further consideration of such incidents by National Defense Intelligence Agencies.”;
“17. The majority of reported incidents are reliable to the extent that they have involved the sighting of some object or light phenomenon.”;
“19. There are numerous reports from reliable and competent observers for which a conclusive explanation has not been made. Some of these involve descriptions which would place them in the category of new manifestations of probable natural phenomena but others involve configurations and described performance which might conceivably represent an advanced aerodynamical development…”
Finally, I wish to thank researchers Barry Greenwood and Jan Aldrich for making available this file, and my good friend Shayne Ford for his computer assistance. At 8 pages, presented below is the “Report by the Director of Intelligence, USAF, to the Joint Intelligence Committee on Unidentified Aerial Objects”.