Tuesday, 6 December 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 8


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 7 November 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 7


In Part 5 and Part 6 of this series, I discussed the US military and intelligence community’s responses and concerns regarding a series of provocative UFO events which occurred in the mid–1970’s over United States Air Force (USAF) bases which were assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Previously, in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, I looked the US military’s OPREP–3 reporting system which was one of the methods used to alert top–level military commands and components of these, to put it mildly, unusual events. In Part 4, I highlighted a special category of OPREP–3 reporting which was explicitly designed for the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM), to report general unknown radar tracks, and, “Unidentified Flying Objects – UFOs”. In summary, what started out as a dialogue about UFO’s being reported by the OPREP–3 reporting system, has expanded into a much wider appraisal of myriad declassified documents which deal with UFO case investigation, evaluation and high level concern long after the US government apparently gave up on the UFO issue.

In this Part 7, I will continue to focus on declassified records released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the National Military Command Center (NMCC). The release of these records came about due to the once–powerful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), or, rather, its implementation by researchers Barry Greenwood, Robert Todd, Lawrence Fawcett, Todd Zechel and others.

As mentioned in my Part 6, on the 24th of December, 1979, Robert Todd submitted an FOI request to the Office of the Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) asking to be provided with any records which contained references to “unidentified flying objects”, “unknown objects” and “UFOs”. Todd restricted his request to only include records created from 1975 to 1979. On the 18th of January, 1980, Charles W. Hinkle, the Director, Freedom of Information and Security Review, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence, replied to Todd, stating:

“The Office of the Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) is prepared to provide the 123 NMCC memorandums for the record…”

As I have discussed, Todd indeed saw that the OJCS release these records, and, many were subject–lined with phrases such as “UFO incident”, “UFO analysis”, “UFO sightings” and “Requests for temperature inversion analysis”. Also, involvement by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), and other senior–ranking officers, is apparent throughout the documents. The actual UFO incidents, or what were believed to be UFO incidents, which led to the production of these NMCC records, had occurred near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, Wurthsmith AFB, Michigan, Loring AFB, Maine, Minot AFB, North Dakota and Falconbridge Air Force Station in Ontario, Canada. The time period involved was late October to late November, and, other military bases, including Plattsburg AFB in New York, experienced unidentified aerial activity during the same period of time, but release of documents relating to these locations were denied. I have already highlighted some of the NMCC records which relate to the events at Malmstrom AFB during November, 1975. Todd’s FOI requests, however, demanded the release of “UFO” records spanning all the way into 1979.

One of the National Military Command Center (NMCC) releases included a 20th of April, 1979, “Memorandum For The Record” with the dry subject–line “NORAD Unknown Air Activity”. Signed by the NMCC’s Deputy Director for Operations (DDO), Brig. Gen. Dan A. Brooksher, USAF, the memorandum reads:

“Subject: NORAD Unknown Air Activity

At 201602 EST April 1979 NORAD declared track H443 unknown. A single unidentified object was approximately 70 NM south of Homestead AFB, FL heading northwest at 170 knots. One USAF F–4 was scrambled from Homestead to intercept. Prior to intercept, the unknown faded from radar at 201648 EST approximately 90 NM southwest of Homestead. Heavy cloud cover in the area hampered successful intercept. This object will remain a NORAD unknown.”

While there is nothing to indicate this was anything but a stray aircraft, or, an aircraft failing to communicate with ground authorities, it is unusual that this particular event was released as a result of an FOI request specifically stipulating “unidentified flying object” and “UFO” records. NORAD picks up hundreds of uncooperative or unidentified aircraft every year. These are labelled “Unknown Tracks” until identified, and, if not identified, an unknown track will be tagged as a “NORAD Remaining Unknown”. As yet, we don’t have declassified NORAD unknown track data for 1979, so it is impossible to ascertain just how unusual the above detailed incident was. As a comparison however, a Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) historical publication, titled “History of the 11th Tactical Control Group, January – Septamber, 1986, Volume I of IV”, states that NORAD’s Alaskan Air Command (NORAD–AAC), logged twenty–seven “unknowns” during a nine month period alone. So, it is fair to say that NORAD assets, across the whole of the United States, log a very large number of aircraft detections which remain unknown or unidentified.

Why the NMCC’s 20th of April, 1979 memorandum was especially selected as a UFO–related record is somewhat uncertain. Probably, however, the record was included as responsive to Robert Todd’s FOI request simply because it contained the term “unidentified object”. Also, during 1978 and 1979, Todd submitted dozens of FOI requests to the 20th NORAD Region (20NR) for copies daily “Senior Command Directors Logs” which specifically contained the terms “UFO” and “unidentified flying object”. Based at Fort Lee Air Force Station, Virginia, the 20NR was responsible for air defence and aerospace surveillance across the south–eastern United States. Todd’s dogged FOI submissions to 20NR’s Director of Administration, Brig. Gen. F. A. Humphrey’s, did reveal numerous “UFO” cases held in 20NR Senior Command Director’s files, but the above mentioned “NORAD Unknown Air Activity” case revealed in the NMCC memorandum is not one of them. Finally, whatever the actual flying “object” was, it unquestionably represents an occasion where combat jets were scrambled to intercept something that falls into the “UFO” category. Also, various NORAD instructional regulations, including “NORAD Operational Regulation 55–7 Unknown Track / Unknown Object Reporting” and “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System”, required that “UFO” or “unknown object” events be recorded on a “NORAD Form 61 Unknown Track Report” form. In some instances, commanders were required to submit an OPREP–3 report to NORAD’s Combat Operations Center (NCOC) in Colorado. So there is little doubt that the 20th of April, 1979 incident would have created more paperwork. Later FOI requests with NORAD, however, came up empty–handed. The NMCC memorandum is imaged below.

Three years beforehand, in 1976, the National Military Command Center (NMCC), received a report from Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on January the 21st. Signed by the NMCC’s Deputy Director of Operations, Rear Adm. J. B. Morin, is a “Memorandum For The Record” which states:

“Subject: Report of UFO – Cannon AFB NM

Reference: AFOC Phonecon 2105 EST Jan 76

The following information was received from the Air Force Operations Center at 0555 EST:

“Two UFOs are reported near the flight line at Cannon AFB, New Mexico. Security Police observing them reported the UFOs to be 25 yards in diameter, gold or silver in color with blue light on top, hole in the middle and red light on bottom. Air Force is checking with radar. Additionally, checking weather inversion data.”.”

There isn’t enough information here to speculate on what these objects were. Taken at face value though, the security police personnel were obviously alarmed enough to report the sighting, and, the report was taken seriously enough to be logged with the USAF’s Operations Center at the Pentagon, who then forwarded it to the NMCC. In the 1970’s, Cannon AFB hosted the huge 27th Tactical Fighter Wing (27thTFW), which was assigned to the USAF’s Tactical Air Command (TAC). The fact that “two UFOs” were ostensibly active right where the 27thTFW’s five squadrons of F–111 fighter–bombers operate from is clearly of grave concern, and must have generated paperwork. Further FOI requests by Robert Todd, however, met with denials. Also, the NMCC memorandum states that the Air Force was both “checking with radar” and “checking weather inversion data”. In other words, some level of investigation was being performed. The NMCC memorandum in question is imaged below.

Just ten days later, on January 31, 1976, the NMCC handled a UFO report from Eglin AFB, Florida. Yet again, a “Memorandum For The Record” was immediately produced and signed by Fred. Brig. Gen. A. Treyz, USAF, the NMCC’s on–duty Deputy Director of Operations (DDO). It reads:

“Subject: Unidentified Flying Object Sighting

1. At 310805 received phoncon from AFOC: MG Lane, CG, Armament and Development Test Center, Eglin AFB, Florida, called and reported a UFO sighting from 0430 EST to 0600 EST. Security policemen spotted lights from what they called a UFO near an Eglin radar site.

2 Photographs of the lights were taken. The Eglin Office of Information has made a press release on the UFO.

3. The temperature inversion analysis indicated no significant temperature inversion at Eglin AFB at that time. The only inversion present was due to radiation from the surface to 2500 feet. The Eglin surface conditions were clear skies, visibility 10–14 miles, calm winds, shallow ground fog on the runway, and a surface temperature of 44 degrees F.”

While interesting at first glance, this sighting appears to have been stimulated by something far less provocative than a flying object or other unfamiliar phenomenon. An extract from the NORAD Headquarters “Command Director’s Log”, obtained by both Todd Zechel and Barry Greenwood under the FOI Act, contains further information not presented in the NMCC memorandum:

“The Command Post received a UFO report from Eglin, FL, that Duke Field personnel saw a row of lights with a central white light at 1043. The lights were about 2° above the horizon at a zenith of 350°, range unknown. A later report (1245) states that further investigation in daylight indicated that the lights were probably on a building.”

So it appears that the “UFO” may well have been nothing more than lights on a building. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the NMCC “Memorandum for the Record” is dated several hours after NORAD was notified that “…further investigation in daylight indicated that the lights were probably on a building…”, yet makes no mention of this apparently simple solution. In all likelihood, some sort of miscommunication or bureaucratic lethargy at the NMCC was the cause of this oversight. Another issue worth noting is that the lights–on–a–building explanation isn’t entirely definitive. The NORAD extract states that daytime investigation “indicated” that the lights were “probably” on a building, and, one may ask why a row of lights on a building, unless brand new, had never been noticed before. Without more records, or detailed witness statements, one will never know. The NMCC memorandum also refers to photographs being taken of the lights, but when Robert Todd submitted FOI requests to the Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Detachment 710, which was based at Eglin AFB, as well as the Eglin Command Post, there was a total denial that any photographs even existed. The NMCC “Memorandum For The Record” is imaged below.

In the early hours of the morning, on the 30th of July, 1976, the Command Post (CP) at Fort Ritchie, Maryland reported a series of UFO sightings to the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC) in Pennsylvania. The ANMCC called the NMCC to inform them of the situation. The events were summarised in a two–page NMCC “Memoraundum For The Record”, and signed by USMC Brig. Gen. L. J. Leblanc, the on–duty Deputy Director of Operations. It states:

“Subject: Reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)

1. At approximately 0345 EOT, the ANMCC called to indicate they had received several reports of UFOs in the vicinity of Fort Ritchie. The following events summarize the reports (times are approximate).

a. 0130 – Civilians reported a UFO sighting near Mt. Airy, Md. This information was obtained via a call from the National Aeronautics Board (?) to the Fort Ritchie Military Police.

b. 0255 – Two separate patrols from Site R reported sighting 3 oblong objects with a reddish tint, moving east to west. Personnel were located at separate locations on top of the mountain at Site R.

c. 0300 – Desk Sgt. at Site R went to the top of the Site R mountain and observed a UFO over the ammo storage area at 100–200 yards altitude.

d. 0345 – An Army Police Sgt. on the way to work at Site R reported sighting a UFO in the vicinity of Site R.

2. ANMCC was requested to have each individual write a statement on the sightings. One individual stated the object was about the size of a 2 1/2 ton truck.

3. Based on a JCS memorandum, subject: Temperature Inversion Analysis, dated 13 November 1975, the NMCC contacted the Air Force Global Weather Central. The Duty Officer, LTC OVERBY, reported that the Dulles International Airport observations showed two temperature inversions existed at the time of the alleged sightings. The first extended from the surface to 1,000 feet absolute and the second existed between 27,000 and 30,000 feet, absolute. He also said the atmosphere between 12,000 and 20,000 feet was heavily saturated with moisture. A hard copy message will follow.”

It is very difficult, on this limited information, to assess what the witnesses were seeing. For the purposes of my study here, the sightings themselves are of secondary importance. What is important, yet again, is that “unidentified flying objects” and “UFOs” were being reported and collated by a number of top–echelon commands, and, moreover, there was immediate weather analysis performed by Air Force Global Weather Central (AFGWC) for the NMCC. Furthermore, the ANMCC was asked “…to have to have each individual write a statement on the sightings…”. Requests under the FOI Act for further documentation, however, were met with suspicious denials. The fact that “…one UFO was the size of a 2 1/2 ton truck…” and three “oblong objects with a reddish tint” strongly indicates that a full collection of reports, written and signed by the many witnesses, would be rather interesting. No wonder nothing more was released. The fact that one witnesses “observed a UFO over the ammo storage area”, seemingly at close range, is especially provocative, and reminds us of the spooky events at Loring AFB, Wurthsmith AFB and Malmstrom AFB nine months earlier. As for prompt investigation, the memorandum states that two temperature inversions were reported over the area at the time. Such weather activity, however, occurs ceaselessly, and does not produce endless and specific sightings, and certainly not from various defined locations. I have imaged the two–page NMCC “Memorandum For The Record” below.

As I have highlighted, Robert Todd had the Office of the Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) release these NMCC records through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence. He was not the first, however. Barry Greenwood had already accessed most of them a full two years earlier. Greenwood was originally denied many of the records, especially the NMCC “DDO Talkers” and “DDO Updates” that I presented in Part 6 of this series. With persistence, Greenwood used the FOI Act Appeals process to gain access to most of the previously withheld records. It is possible, of course, that other sensitive record were found, but not admitted to at all. Considering what had been released up until the beginning of 1980, Robert Todd attempted to take matters one final step further. In the two years of furious FOI requesting, researchers had not yet asked the OJCS for UFO records dated before 1975. Also, Todd wondered, for reasons unknown, if the NMCC’s file searching for the period of January, 1976, to June ,1977, had been adequate. So, on the 13th of February, 1980, Todd submitted an FOI request to the OJCS asking that another series of searches be conducted. Rather than asking for the entire OJCS file archive to be searched, Todd stipulated that only NMCC and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) files be examined. Todd could have asked that all Joint Cheifs of Staff (JCS) files be checked, but for some reason he chose to have just CJCS searches performed. His most bold requirement, however, was that a search of all records, no matter what the date, created before February, 1976 be examined. This meant, firstly, that 1975 files would be searched again, and, secondly, that files dating to as far back as the NMCC and CJCS actually store files before custody is relinquished to permanent archives.

On the 25th of February, 1980, Charles W. Hinkle, the Director, Freedom of Information and Security Review at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence, replied to Todd’s request in a two page letter. The letter states, in part:

“a. As stated in the response to 79–DFOI–1071, the OJCS searched NMCC records for the period 1 January 1976 to 30 November 1979, and all documents pertaining to UFOs and aircraft scrambles against unknown air aircraft were identified and released. Repetition of a search of NMCC records dated between January 1976 and June 1977 to identify records on aircraft scrambles is therefore unnecessary.

b. There are 23 linear feet (roughly 80,000 pages) of NMCC records dated prior to February 1976. To identify documents relevant to the request would require a page–by–page review and would consume at least 400 hours. The costs would probably be between $2200.00–$4400.00, depending on the actual time taken and the pay grade of the individuals available to conduct the search.

c. A search of the approximately 542 linear feet of CJCS records (1.8 million pages) for references to UFO’s could take as much as 10,000 hours, and would cost over $50,000.00.”

Understandably, the OJCS did not want to search records already looked at previously. More importantly, it was identified that the NMCC held 80,000 pages of records dating back to an undisclosed time, and the CJCS held 1.8 million pages. In his reply, Charles W. Hinkle didn’t elaborate on just how long either the NMCC or the CJCS retained records for, but chances are, from experience with other government organisations, it would have been many years. If Robert Todd could have afforded the cost of such a lengthy examination of such files, who knows what would have been found. Page 1 of the Charles W. Hinkle’s reply is imaged below.

In summary, I have highlight, both here and in Part 6 of this series, myriad records of Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and National Military Command Center (NMCC) origin, which incontrovertibly demonstrate an on–going and high–level concern over “UFO” and “unidentified flying object” incidents in the vicinity of sensitive military installations. These are terms they used, and they used them explicitly and frequently, to put it mildly. It is amazing many of these records were revealed at all. Through 1977 and 1978, internal OJCS memoranda recurrently reveal that a trio of officials wanted as little documentation released as possible. Thomas B. Ross, the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs, as well as USMC Lt. Gen. Philip D. Shutler and USAF Gen. James E. Dalton, who both held the role of Vice Director of the Joint Staff at various times, personally dealt with the mounting FOI requests, and subsequent appeals, slung at the OJCS by Barry Greenwood, Todd Zechel and Robert Todd. The provisions of document declassification and public release, outlined in the FOI Act, were enough to force the OJCS to surrender a very significant quantity of material, as we have seen.

As for the actual UFO’s, there is rarely enough information in these brief records to establish what, if anything, was actually flying around. Certainly, though, those on the bases, and up the chain of command, thought that intrusive, unpredictable craft were actually active over some of America’s most strategically vital military installations. Moreover, not a single released document has even remotely pointed to a solution. If helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, bright stars and the like were somehow responsible for every single UFO report, then those whose job it is to solve the matter and out it to rest, failed profoundly. The resources of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI), the 8th Air Force (8thAF), the Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and a not–insignificant number of other alarmed government entities, were obviously no match for whatever was apparently making somewhat of a mockery of the most sophisticated armed forces in human history.

This has been, and will continue to be, the main focus of my research for some time. The often repeated statement that the US government, especially the military, was not handling and investigating serious UFO cases after the closure of Project Blue Book in 1970 is, in the face of the documents I continue to present, is puerile and embarrassing. In Part 8 of this series, I will move on to how the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM) handled the weird “over flights” of 1975 and 1976. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 6


Previously, in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I highlighted a number of occasions, during the 1970’s, where the US military’s OPREP–3 reporting system has been used to alert top–level military commands and components of provocative UFO activity near military bases. In Part 4, I highlighted a category of OPREP–3 reporting which was specifically designed for the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM), to report general unknown radar tracks, and, “Unidentified Flying Objects – UFOs”. In Part 5, I moved on from the actual OPREP–3 reporting of UFOs, and into the fallout that some of these post–Project Blue Book UFO events caused within the US military and intelligence community. In summary, what started out as a brief appraisal of the OPREP–3 reporting system, specifically in relation to apparent UFO incidents, has morphed into a wider study of declassified documents which deal with UFO case investigation, evaluation and high level concern long after the US government relieved itself, publicly, of the UFO headache.

In this Part 6, I will continue my study, this time focusing on records released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the National Military Command Center (NMCC) in relation to a series of possible UFO events over Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. These events, which occurred in November, 1975, followed similar aerial intrusions over Wurthsmith AFB, Michigan, Loring AFB, Maine, and Falconbridge AFS in Ontario, Canada. Minot AFB in North Dakota, and other bases were likewise affected by unidentified activity during the same period. Most of these bases were assigned to the United States Air Force’s (USAF) Strategic Air Command (SAC), and, had nuclear weapons. This unusual chapter in UFO history only came to light after researchers Barry Greenwood, Robert Todd, Lawrence Fawcett and Todd Zechel used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain pertinent records from military agencies and commands.

On the 24th of December, 1979, researcher Robert Todd submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Office of the Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) asking to be provided with any records which contained references to “unidentified flying objects”, “unknown objects” and “UFOs”. Todd also asked for possible weather analysis records which related to reported UFO events. It may be important to note that Todd didn’t ask that the entire OJCS and all its components be searched. Rather, he restricted his request to records held only by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and, the National Military Command Center (NMCC), which was, and still is, part of the JCS Operations Directorate. Also, Todd stated that he was already in possession of some JCS and NMCC records, obtained previously by researcher Barry Greenwood, and that he wanted the same material released, plus a new search conducted for anything missed.

On the 18th of January, 1980, Charles W. Hinkle, the Director, Freedom of Information and Security Review, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence, replied to Todd, stating:

“The Office of the Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) is prepared to provide the 123 NMCC memorandums for the record upon receipt of payment for search and reproduction. Three of the memorandums will be sanitized to delete currently classified information that reveals military tactical capabilities.”

While still extraordinary, the figure of “123 Memorandums for the Record” was somewhat inaccurate. Firstly, Todd did eventually receive 123 documents, but many were near–identical duplicate copies of one another. Secondly, some of the documents were not technically “Memorandums for the Record”, but were actually NMCC “Deputy Director of Operations Talker” messages, or, “DDO Talkers”. Whatever the specifics, Todd had acquired about forty unique NMCC records involving “UFO incidents”, “UFO analysis”, “UFO sightings” and “unusual phenomena”. Also contained in Charles W. Hinkle’s reply letter to Todd was the statement:

“With reference to your request for copies of requests for temperature inversion analysis, and message responses to such inquiries, the OJCS advises that no documents have been found that would be responsive.”

This final statement was wholly incorrect. The NMCC, in fact, did have “temperature inversion analysis” records, and, they specifically related to “sightings of unusual phenomena” and “UFOs”, as we shall see in due course. Charles W. Hinkle’s reply letter to Todd is imaged below.

Dated the 8th of November, 1975, and signed by the NMCC’s DDO, Brig. Gen. Wilman D. Barnes, is a two page “Memorandum For The Record” which concerns persistent radar and visual sightings around Malmstrom AFB. The events were still occurring at the time the NMCC memorandum was authored. It is important to note that Malmstrom was the home of the 341st Missile Wing which controlled silo–based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) equipped with nuclear warheads. The memorandum reads:

“Subject: Unidentified Sightings

1. 0308 EST FONECON from NORAD Command Director: at 0253 EST Malmstrom AFB Montana received seven radar cuts on the height–finder radar at altitudes between 9,500’ and 15,500’. Simultaneously, ground witnesses observed lights in the sky and the sounds of jet engines similar to jet fighters. Cross–tell with FAA revealed no jet aircraft within 100NM of the sightings. Radar tracked the objects over Lewistown, Montana at a speed of seven (7) knots. Two F–106 interceptors from the 24th NORAD Region were scrambled at 0254 EST and became airborne at 0257 EST. At the time of the initial voice report personnel at Malmstrom AFB and SAC sites K1, K3, L3 and L6 were reporting lights in the sky accompanied by jet engine noise.

2. 0344 EST FONECON, same source:

Objects could not be intercepted. Fighters had to maintain a minimum 12,000’ because of mountainous terrain. Sightings had turned west, increased speed to 150 knots. Two tracks were apparent on height–finder radars 10–12 NM apart. SAC Site K3 reported sightings between 300’ and 1,000’ while site L–4 reported sightings 5NM NW of their position. Sightings disappeared from radar at position 4650N/10920W at a tracked speed of three (3) knots.

3. At 0440 EST, NMCC initiated contact with the NORAD Command director who reported the following:

0405 EST: Malmstrom receiving intermittent tracks on both search and height–finder radars. SAC site C–1, 10NM SE of Stanford, Montana, reported visual sightings of unknown objects.

0430 EST: Personnel at 4 SAC sites reported observing inter–cepting F–106’s arrive in area; sighted objects turn off their lights upon arrival of interceptors, and back on upon their departure.

0440 EST: SAC site C–1 still had a visual sighting on objects.

4. NORAD stated that Northern Lights will sometimes cause phenomena such as this on height–finder radars, but their check with weather services revealed no possibility of Northern Lights.

5. NMCC notified Washington FAA at 0445 EST of the incidents described above. They had not received any information prior to this time.

6. 0522 EST FONECON with NORAD Command Director: At 0405 EST SAC Site L–5 observed one object accelerate and climb rapidly to a point in altitude where it became indistinguishable from the stars. NORAD will carry this incident as a FADE remaining UNKNOWN at 0320 EST. since after that time only visual sightings occurred.”

While it is not my aim to study the events themselves, it is worth discussing a few key points regarding the above listed incidents, in addition to studying the document itself. From the outset, we see involvement from NORAD’s Command Director, who provided the NMCC with a chronological timeline of events as reported by Malmstrom AFB between 3:08am EST until 5:22am. As for the unusual occurrences themselves, we see, on one hand, that “…ground witnesses observed lights in the sky and the sounds of jet engines similar to jet fighters…” while height finding radar was “simultaneously” receiving returns. Logic would suggest that a stray combat jet was in the vicinity of Malmstrom AFB. However, the text immediately goes on to state that “…Cross–tell with FAA revealed no jet aircraft within 100NM of the sightings. Radar tracked the objects over Lewistown, Montana at a speed of seven (7) knots.”. High performance aircraft do not loll about at seven knots, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could provide no insight into the sightings.

As strange lights in the sky persisted, a pair of F–106 interceptors, assigned to the 24th NORAD Region, were scrambled at 2:54am EST with the purpose of making contact with whatever, if anything, was flying around. The highly capable F–106 interceptors failed to locate anything. Mountainous terrain apparently made for difficult search–and–intercept conditions, and, one could argue that there may have been, in fact, nothing there to find in the first place. When two independent radar systems, however, are involved, things get a bit more alarming. At 4:05am EST, Malmstrom AFB was “…receiving intermittent tracks on both search and height–finder radars…”, while, seemingly at the same time, “…SAC site C–1… …reported visual sightings of unknown objects.”. At 0430am EST, “…Personnel at 4 SAC sites reported observing inter–cepting F–106’s arrive in area; sighted objects turn off their lights upon arrival of interceptors, and back on upon their departure.”. Other key points include the fact that NORAD ruled out northern lights, and, the NMCC “notified Washington FAA… …of the incidents”. Finally, the NORAD Command Director logged the duel radar hit at 4:05am incident as a faded “unknown”. The two page memorandum is imaged below.

During the 1970’s, the NMCC produced short, internal messages known as “DDO Talkers”. “DDO” refers to the NMCC’s “Deputy Director of Operations”. A “DDO Talker” message can be followed by a “DDO Update”. An 8th of November “DDO Update” message, regarding the unusual events over Malmstrom AFB, reads:


(U) From 080253 EST Nov 75 to 080420 EST Nov 75, Malmstrom AFB MT and four SAC sites reported a series of visual and radar contacts with unidentified flying objects. Several reports from the same locations included jet engine sounds associated with the observed bright lights. Two interceptors scrambled from the 24th NORAD Region failed to make contact with the UFO’s.

(U) The UFO sightings occurred on an extremely clear night. Visibility was 45 miles. Although northern lights will cause phenomena similar to the received reports, weather services indicated no possibility of the northern lights during the period in question. (SOURCE: NMCC MFR 080600 EST NOV 75.”

The subject–line phrase “UFO SIGHTING” demonstrates a willingness to use the much shunned term “UFO”, and, a willingness to do so within the highest levels of military command. Moreover, the passage of text reading “…a series of visual and radar contacts with unidentified flying objects…” leaves no doubt that command level authorities believed they were dealing with something tangible and unidentifiable, which, especially when confirmed on radar systems, contextualises and defines a true UFO event. Additionally, even if mundane explanations could account for all this, it is abundantly clear that national security was foremost in the minds of those involved. Clearly, command level staff, assigned to SAC and NORAD, assumed dealing with unknown entities above one of the world’s largest launch–ready nuclear missile fields, and this speaks volumes. Needless to say, none of these events were ever solved. The above mentioned “DDO Update” is imaged here.

Another “DDO Update” message regarding the unusual events above Malmstrom AFB, dated the 9th of November, 1975 reads:


A follow–up with NORAD at 090430 EST provided no additional information. (LTG Smith had indicated his continuing interest in fonecon with DDO OT#4 on 8 November”

Again, the term “UFO” is readily utilised in the subject–line. Also of interest is the reference to a “LTG Smith” who had indicated his “continuing interest” in the situation. “LTG Smith” probably refers to Gen. William Y. Smith, USAF, who, in 1975, was the Assistant to the Chairman of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs (OJCS) of Staff. Here we see, in black and white, a Lieutenant General, the second highest rank in the USAF, giving attention to a what–is–described as a UFO event. This “DDO Update” is imaged below.

Two days later, on the 11th of November, 1975, another “DDO Update” message was produced by the NMCC DDO. It reads:


(U) CJCS, at 10 Nov Morning briefing, indicated that when UFO sightings are reported, the NMCC should ask for temperature gradients in the area (i.e., for possible aloft inversions). The CJCS also questioned the advisability of scrambling aircraft against reported UFOs.”

This could not be clearer. The subject–line reads “CJCS COMMENTS RE UFO INCIDENT”. As we know, “CJCS” refers to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CJCS is “…is the principal military adviser to the President, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defence…” as described by “10 U.S. Code § 151 – Joint Chiefs of Staff: Composition; Functions”. At the time, the CJCS was Gen. George S. Brown, USAF. Not only was he was briefed about alarming UFO activity at the 10th of November, 1975, morning meeting, he was also adding to the decision making process. Firstly, Gen. Brown indicated that the NMCC should embark on weather analysis “when UFO sightings are reported”, and, secondly, he “questioned the advisability” of scrambling combat jets “against reported UFOs”. This provocative NMCC “DDO Update” is imaged below.

Gen. Brown’s recommendations were quickly implemented. Produced on the 13th of October, 1975, is an NMCC “Memorandum For The Record” with the subject–line “Requests for Temperature Inversion Analysis”. Signed by the NMCC’s DDO, Brig. Gen. C. D. Roberts, it reads:

“Subject: Requests for Temperature Inversion Analysis

1. LTC Schmidt, representing Air Force Global Weather Central (AFGWC), visited the NMCC at 131500 EST to discuss arrangements to implement the procurement of weather information desired by CJCS, which is the subject of DDO Environmental Services memo of 13 November 1975. The following agreements with LTC Schmidt were reached:

a. The West Hem Desk Officer will act as the control officer for temperature inversion analysis requests initiated by the NMCC. These requests will be made in conjunction with sightings of unusual phenomenon along the northern US border.

b. Each telephone request will be serialized, i.e., (TIA #1 etc.) and directed to the duty officer at AFGWC, autovon 8661661 or 271–2586. AFGWC will provide the requested analyses by telephone followed up by a priority message.

c. A record of the serialized requests/responses will be maintained by the West Hem Desk Officer.”

Here we see that the USAF’s Global Weather Central (AFGWC) agency was tasked with supplying the NMCC with localised weather data during “…sightings of unusual phenomenon along the northern US border…”. Specifically, the USAF–controlled “West Hemisphere Desk” (WEST HEM DESK), which functionally supported the NMCC in the 1970’s, was to request temperature inversion analysis (TIA) product from AFGWC, and furnish it to NMCC operations staff immediately. This memorandum is imaged below.

Following on from this memorandum, is a “DDO Update” message, dated the 13th of November, 1975, which reads:


(U) In future UFO sightings, the WEST HEM Desk Officer will initiate telephone requests to the Senior Duty Officer at the Air Force Global Weather Central (AFGWC) for a temperature inversion analysis in the vicinity of unusual sightings. The telephone response by AFGWC will be followed with a priority message. (SOURCE: NMCC MFR 132025 EST NOV 75)”

So now its “UFO ANALYSIS” for the subject line! This “DDO Update” is simply an outgoing message implementing Brig. Gen. C. D. ’Roberts aforementioned memorandum. It makes clear that temperature inversion analysis will be conducted by AFGWC through the West Hem desk for the NMCC when “unusual sightings” occur. There is no doubt now that the unknown aerial activity at Malmstrom AFB, and other bases, was being taken seriously by the NMCC for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As always, this document is imaged below.

          It is probably important to note that the released records which discuss weather analysis were not originally released to Robert Todd when his FOI request was finalised on the 18th of January. It was actually three months later, on the 20th of April, 1980, that Barry Greenwood managed to have the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence admit to ownership of the documents. As I have mentioned, Charles W. Hinkle, the Director, Freedom of Information and Security Review, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence, had told Todd that “…With reference to your request for copies of requests for temperature inversion analysis… …no documents have been found that would be responsive…”. Either the OJCS was being dishonest with Todd, or, they simply didn’t locate some of the records which obviously did exist. Either way, this brings into question just how many other UFO–related JCS and NMCC documents may have been deliberately withheld, or, legitimately missed. Furthermore, as mentioned, Todd, nor anyone else, asked the entire Organisation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS) and all its components be searched for UFO related records. Only the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and its National Military Command Center (NMCC) were stipulated in FOI requests, so it is entirely possible that other material was being held.

To conclude, this series has morphed into the analysis of wider US military UFO investigation, analysis and obviously high level concern. 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 in 1970. Hence, no agency or desk in the US military would be accepting UFO reports, and there most certainly would not be any investigation. A 1993 version of the USAF’s “Fact Sheet” on UFOs, with the title “Unidentified Flying Objects And Air Force Project Blue Book: Fact Sheet”, states that “Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force…” Clearly, this is hogwash. The 1975 over flights, and the fallout they created, is at odds with the official line. Even if all these events had mundane explanations, those involved evidently thought they dealing with something very unusual. The ceaseless use of the term “UFO” and “unidentified flying object”, along with terms such as “analysis”, is very hard to reconcile with mere helicopter flights and a few bright stars. In the end, of course, the full resources of a dozen USAF components and major commands, plus a long list of other agencies, never came to any conclusion. Contained in Part 7 of this series will be yet more documentation, much of which has never been seen.