Monday, 6 February 2017

"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting 

Channel For UFO Incidents?

Part 9

  


Previously, in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, I looked at the US military’s OPREP–3 reporting system, and, in particular, its use in alerting top–echelon military commands of serious UFO incidents. In 1975, and again in 1978, the OPREP–3 system was used to convey urgent and current information regarding perceived UFO activity near sensitive US military installations. In Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 of this series, I moved away from the raw reporting of UFOs, and began to discuss the US government’s response, concern, evaluation and investigation of these well–documented, intrusive aerial events, which were to become known as the “1970’s over flights”, or variations of that apt title. Through the release of hundreds of pages of records, via the utilisation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), researchers could piece together a chronological narrative of UFO detection, reporting, response and investigation. It was the efforts of Robert Todd, Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett and Todd Zechel, and a few others, which saw government agencies, especially military commands, release such records. 

In Part 8, I discussed both the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and the old Aerospace Defence Command’s (ADCOM) role in, and response to, the “over flights”, especially the events of October and November, 1975. Specifically, I laid out NORAD and ADCOM’s handling of FOI requests, which demonstrated clear inconsistencies, and possibly deceitful conduct. More importantly, I presented the comparatively few NORAD and ADCOM documents that were releasable, including so-called “Command Directors Logs” and “Senior Command Directors Logs”. I also laid out a handful of misleading statements made by NORAD regarding UFO’s generally. Finally, it should be known that I will be discussing NORAD and ADCOM’s involvement in the “over flights” at greater length in my ongoing series titled “NORAD and the UFO Smokescreen”. In this edition of my series, I will present more NORAD and ADCOM correspondence, including FOI action, plus further declassified records, all of which are critical in assessing how these two massive organisations dealt with the both the UFO events themselves, and the fallout that occurred later.

Briefly, NORAD was, and still is, a bi–national, United States–Canadian military organisation charged with aerospace warning and aerospace control over North America. Its mission includes aircraft detection and monitoring, airspace management and defensive air sovereignty. ADCOM, which was inactivated in 1986, was a major command (MAJCOM) of the USAF, and was tasked with tactically defending the just continental USA only. As I have outlined previously, 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”.

I finished Part 8 of this series discussing various records held, and released, by NORAD’s Combat Operations Center (NCOC), as well as the 23rd and 24th NORAD Regions and equivalent ADCOM Air Divisions. Researchers continued, as the end of 1977 neared, submitting FOI requests, as well as general correspondence letters, to other regional headquarters, and even individual bases23rd. On the 13th of October, 1977, researcher Robert Todd sent an FOI request to the 22nd NORAD Region (22NR) at Canadian Forces Base North Bay, in Ontario. His request stated, in part:

“It is respectfully requested that the 22nd NORAD Region Senior Command Director’s Log for 15 October through 15th November 1975 be searched for any and all entries pertaining to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or unidentified flight activity, and that copies of all such entries found be supplied.

It is also requested that copies be supplied of any log entries or any other documents in the possession of the 22nd NORAD Region which pertain to the attempted interception of a UFO (or UFOs) over Sudbury, Canada, on or about 11 October 1975.”

Evidently, Todd had noted from previous FOI action that the 22nd NR had dealt with UFO activity during November, 1975, and there were in fact a number of documents which were responsive to Todd’s FOI request. Unfortunately, these records were not released until years later, as we shall see. I have imaged Todd’s FOI request below.


On the 21st of October, 1977, Maj. Gen. J. E. Henna, Commander of the 22nd NR, came back to Todd, stating:

“Your letter dated 13 October, 1977, addressed to 22nd NORAD Region, Canadian Forces Base North Bay, has been referred to my office for reply.

As you will appreciate, 22nd NORAD Region Headquarters is located in Canada and the Freedom of Information Act to which you refer is not in force and effect in Canada. The entries in the 22nd NORAD Region Senior Directors Log and related documents are classified material and, as a matter of policy, Canadian authorities do not release such information to the public. Accordingly, I cannot comply with your request for transcripts of log entries.

I regret that I am unable to be of assistance to you in this matter.”

The FOI Act was, and still is, only applicable to American government agencies, so the response given by Maj. Gen. Henna’s letter was accurate. Maj. Gen. Henna’s reply letter is imaged below.


The 22nd NORAD Region must have been relieved. As stated above, there were specific records responsive to Todd’s FOI request, and releasing them in 1977 would have significantly added to the growing pile of 1975 “over flight” material. Years later, the Canadian National Archives released a series of outgoing telexes which were sent from both Canadian Forces Station, Falconbridge and the 22nd NR Headquarters at North Bay, on the 11th and 12th of November, 1975. The destination of these telexes was the National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa. Also, several pages of the 22nd NR Air Traffic Control log book for the 11th and 12th of November, 1975 were declassified and released to Canadian researcher Palmiro Campagna in 1995 under Canada’s Access to Information Act (AIA).

To elaborate, during the evening of the 11th of November, 1975, Canadian Forces officers visually witnessed two unidentified objects, and at least one of them was seemingly imaged on primary radar. At 12:30Z, a telex was sent from the 22nd NR Headquarters to the NDHQ regarding the event. The descriptive body of the message dryly states:

“CIRCULAR OBJECT, BRILLIANTLY LIGHTED WITH TWO BLACK SPOTS IN CENTRE MOVING UPWARDS AT HIGH SPEED FROM 42,000 FEET TO 72,000 FEET. (NO HORIZONTAL MOVEMENT). 14 MINUTES. THIS OBJECT WAS SIGHTED VISUALLY AND BY RADAR BEARING 210 DEGREES MAGNETIC AT 30 NAUTICAL MILES FROM CFS FALCONBRIDGE. MAJOR OLIVER TOOK PICTURES BUT IS NOT SURE IF THEY WILL TURN OUT. A SIMILAR OBJECT WAS SIGHTED BY THE SAME OBSERVERS BEARING 270 DEGREES MAGNETIC BUT AT TOO GREAT A DISTANCE TO PROVIDE DETAILS. MANY OTHER REPORTS WERE RECEIVED FROM SUDBURY ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE. SEEN FOR 14 MINUTES.”

Hours later, at 16:30Z, another telex was sent to the NDHQ, only this time it was sent from Falconbridge CFS.  The main body of the message states:

“SPHERICAL SHAPED AND APPEARED TO BE ROTATING. APPEARED TO HAVE SURFACE AREA SIMILAR TO THE MOON AND WAS ASCENDING AND DESCENDING. OBSERVED ON HEIGHT FINDER RADAR AND SEARCH. POSITION 210 DEGREES 30 MILES ALTITUDE 42,000 FEET AT 1115Z. POSITION 200 DEGREES 30 MILES ALTITUDE 50,000 FEET AT 1120Z. POSITION 190 DEGREES 25 MILES ALTITUDE 72,000 FEET AT 1129Z. SEEN FROM OPS BUILDING AT CFS FALCONBRIDGE FOR 2 HOURS INTERMITTENTLY DUE TO CLOUD COVER.

             The 22nd NORAD Region Air Traffic Control log book for mid-November, 1975, sheds further light on the events. Originally classified SECRET, it is held at the Canadian National Archives as part of the file collection RG24-G-10-7, Volume/box number: 23314 under File 22NR-2075-5-Part 1, 1975/11-1979/08. The log book contains chronologically ordered entries which discuss UFO’s over Ontario from the evening of the 11th of November well into the 12th. As with the above highlighted telex messages, I will not here give a full account of the apparent UFO events as they appear in the log book. Doing so would go somewhat beyond the purposes of this blog series and would be better handled in future works. Briefly, however, the 22nd NR Air Traffic Control team at North Bay recorded that both local police around Sudbury, and nearby Falconbridge AFS, were reporting varying and unusual aerial activity, including a report from Falconbridge stating that one UFO was of “…brilliant color – like looking at a large gem with colored lights all around it”. Another entry states “…they observed the closest object through binoculars and object was rising vertically at tremendous speed…”. Further, the log details Falconbridge’s apparent radar confirmation as “…they had it on HT [Height] Finder at two cuts of 44,000’ and again at 72,000’ – object circular – well lighted and had what appeared as two black spots in the center.”. Finally, it is stated that a pair of F-106 combat jets from Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, were vectored in to identify the possible intruders, but found nothing. Apparently, however, the combat jets were at an insufficient altitude to make contact.

            Moving on from the 22nd NORAD Region, on the 7th of March, 1978, Robert Todd sent an FOI request to the 21st NORAD Region (21st NR) for copies of a new type of document previously unknown to researchers. As it happened, all NORAD Region’s maintained dozens of operational “checklists” which were used to quickly record day-to-day occurrences and events. Todd only discovered the existence of these kinds of records during previous FOI correspondence with the 20th NORAD Region (20th NR), and he was probably lucky to do so. The checklist piquing Todd’s interest was titled “Unknown Object/Track Reporting Checklist”, and came as an enclosure to a 20th NR regulation titled “20th NORAD Region Regulation, Operations, 55–7 Unknown Track / Unknown Object Reporting”. Todd correctly assumed that if the 20th NR maintained such a regulation, with its associated checklist, then all the NORAD Region’s would be maintaining very similar doctrine. In his FOI request to the 21st NR/DAD, Todd simply asked for completed copies of these records. Presumably, any “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists would contain information about myriad strayed or unresponsive aircraft activity within the 21st NR, and, thus, would not necessarily be what UFO researchers would want. Even so, the title of the checklist did contain the phrase “Unknown Object”, so even amongst the mundane entries, was it possible that unexplained UFO events would be have been recorded.

            ADCOM’s 21st Air Division (21st AD) handled Todd’s request on behalf of the 21st NR. On the 22nd of March, 1978, Brig. Gen. Carl S. Miller sent his reply. A subject line at the top of the letter reads “Request for Copy of Checklists Pertaining to Unknown Object/Track Reporting”. The main body of the Brig. Gen. Miller’s reply goes on to state, in part:

“1. A determination has been that the records requested in your letter of 7 March, 1978 are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.”

Charges of $46.60 were assessed as being reasonable to cover search and reproduction costs. This figure was greatly higher than any other fees charged by NORAD or ADCOM in the past, and would indicate that a very large number of records were responsive to Todd’s FOI request. This was probably because the “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists contained, as I have mentioned, all unidentified aircraft detected by the 21st NR, and, such documentation may have dated back many years before permanent archiving or scheduled destruction. Brig. Gen. Miller’s reply letter is imaged below.


The unexpected costs caused Robert Todd to ask the 21st AD for a fee waiver, which was unsuccessful. Failing that, on the 1st of May, 1978, Todd appealed the case to ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD), Headquarters, Ent AFB. Col. Terrence C. James handled the case, and, on the 16th of June, 1978, he sent Todd a final decision, which reads, in part:

“1. Your letter of 1 May 1978, concerning an appeal for waiver of fees and previous correspondence on the case, was forwarded to this headquarters by 21st Air Division, Hancock Field, New York. After a review of the case, a determination has been made that the checklists, even though you had been previously advised they were releasable, are exempt from mandatory disclosure under 5 USC 552b(2) and Air Force Regulation 12-30, para 10b. Release of these checklists would reveal internal practices and would substantially hinder the effective performance of a significant function of the Air Force.”

Thus, the decision was made to withhold 21st NR “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists. This was a complete turnaround from Brig. Gen. Miller’s letter dated the 22nd March, 1978. The 21st AD was willing to release the records in question, but ADCOM’s Headquarters was not. Obviously, any records that should be withheld on national security grounds should be. So, why the 21st AD’s Brig. Gen. Miller readily offered Robert Todd material that was ostensibly “exempt from mandatory disclosure” is a mystery. Possibly, Brig. Gen. Miller was simply unaware of what should and should not be released. If Todd hadn’t appeal the costs of releasing the records, ADCOM’s Col. James would have been unaware of the situation. It is also possible, especially when one considers prior examples of NORAD and ADCOM’s apparent deceitfulness, that the release of 21st NR “Unknown Object/Track Reporting” checklists would reveal especially unusual aerial events. Considering that hundreds of pages of detailed records, which overtly discussed “UFOs”, “unidentified objects” and “unknown helicopters”, were being released by other commands, there was every chance that the above detailed NORAD checklists were no different. It is also worth mentioning that records, when sensitive, can be released with redactions. Often, only a few passages of text require blacking-out, and the rest becomes releasable. In this case, however, Col. James chose not to offer redacted versions of the records, as usually would be the case. Col. James’s letter is imaged below.


Researchers also submitted FOI requests to individual USAF bases asking for pertinent UFO or “unknown object” records.  On the 7th and 8th of September, 1976, civilians and local Deputy Sheriffs reported unusual aerial activity around over Huron County, Michigan. The sightings were taken seriously by nearby Port Austin Air Force Station, which was assigned to NORAD and ADCOM. Investigative reporter Robert “Bob” Pratt obtained firsthand testimony from witnesses, and then interviewed Port Austin’s NORAD Information Officer, Maj. William Frensley, as we shall see. Based on this information, Robert Todd, on the 4th of November, 1977, asked Port Austin AFS to search their records for anything “relating to unknown objects”. On the 3rd of November, 1977, Col. Kenneth W. Ohlinger sent his reply. Attached was a one page sheet of relevant log extracts titled “UFO Sightings at Port Austin AFS, MI (7 & 8 Sep 1976)”. I have imaged the page below.


With incredibly brief statements, such as “24 Tower notified to help surveillance on UFO”, it is impossible to build a narrative of events. However, once again, “UFO” sightings were being treated seriously. The “SD”, which refers to the Senior Director of either the 23rd Air Division, or, the 23rd NORAD Region, both located at Duluth International Airport, was concerned enough to advise Port Austin AFS to “immediately patch all incoming calls pertaining to UFO sightings to him”. These raw, single line entries do not do the night’s events much justice, but when looked at in conjunction with the information obtained by Bob Pratt, it is obvious that something strange went on. In fact, Pratt had compiled enough firsthand testimony from the area, which included a frank discussion with Maj. Frensley, to run a story in the for the “National Enquirer”. The article appeared on Page 5, on the 9th of November, 1976. With the title “Air Defense Chiefs Admit: We’ve Tracked UFOs on Radar – For a Second Time in Less Than a Year”, the opening sentence reads:

“For the second time in less than a year the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) has admitted to tracking UFOs.”

The article then quotes Maj. Frensley:

“Radar operators of the 754th Radar Squadron at Port Austin Air Force Station in Michigan reported tracking five unknown objects for about 30 minutes early on the morning September 7.”

Further, Maj. Frensley confirmed that two policemen and a civilian were questioned by NORAD regarding their sightings, but, in this case, little action was taken as the events apparently didn’t pose a national security threat. Maj. Frensley stated that:

“Determining whether an unknown object is a threat is based on certain criteria, such as point of origin, direction and speed and a number of other factors I cannot discuss for security reasons.”

One of the witnesses that Bob Pratt tracked down was Carl Baily, a campground manager, who described the objects as being shaped like “batwings”. Further, he stated:

“There were a lot of them. It seemed like a whole fleet. It was amazing. They were moving up and down and left and right, just sort of floating.”

The article goes on to state that Baily, as well two other witnesses, Huron County Sheriffs Deputy’s Greg Gordon and Gary Krug, were connected to the 23rd NORAD Region Headquarters at Duluth, Minnesota to describe what they had seen. This matches the entries found in the above imaged Port Austin AFS logs supplied to Robert Todd on the 3rd of November, 1977. The article goes on to quote Deputy Sheriff Gordon:

“We observed one object that was a very bright light in the sky. It would descend very rapidly, looking as though it was going to land. It would then return to its original height. It moved so quickly it was unbelievable. At one point, one of the objects was over Lake Huron and the next instant it was over the Port Austin Shoes Campground. It moved so quickly our eyes were unable to follow it. At 5 am, two men from the 754th Radar Squadron came out to the scene.”.

The article finishes off establishing that NORAD often questions people who have reported seeing UFO’s. Maj. Frensley is quoted as saying, “We like to talk to as many people as possible to correlate these sightings, if possible, with something like straying aircraft or flares that are dropped.”. Finally, Maj. Frensley admitted “We don’t know what the objects were.”.

In sum, there is no question that NORAD-assigned personnel at Port Austin AFS exhibited enough concern over local UFO sightings to accept calls from witnesses, and subsequently keep in contact as the night went on. The Senior Director, of either the 23rd NORAD Region or the 23rd Air Division, was being updated regarding the situation too. Moreover, if Maj. Frensley’s discussion with Bob Pratt is accurate, there was also primary radar confirmation of “five unknown objects for about 30 minutes” by Port Austin AFS’s 754th Radar Squadron. The above mentioned “National Enquirer” article is imaged below.


In Part 5 of this series I discussed a two-page telex message that summed up NORAD’s awareness of the UFO “over flight” situation as it had played out. NORAD’s Commander–in–Chief (CINCNORAD), based at Ent AFB, Colorado, sent the telex at 21:00Z, on the 11th of November, 1975. The addressees were 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 information in the telex summarises the unidentifiable aerial intrusions that had recently occurred over Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, and Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge. The subject line reads “Suspicious Unknown Air Activity”, and, while covering just two printed pages, was originally sent in five parts. Robert Todd first saw a brief reference to the telex message in documents released by the CINCSAC to researcher Barry Greenwood. On the 19th of April, 1980, Todd sent an FOI request to ADCOM’s Directorate of Administration (ADCOM/DAD) asking for a copy of the telex, and, “any unidentified aircraft and object over flight documents related to the creation of it”. On the 25th of April, 1980, Col. James Rodeen, ADCOM’s Director of Administration, sent his letter with a copy of the two-page telex. However, in regards to Todd’s enquiry for “…documents related to the creation of it”, Col. Rodeen stated:

“With respect to that portion of your request for ‘related documents’, we are not sure what you want; can you be more specific as to what documents you are interested in? For example, we provided reports of activity at certain bases during the referenced time frame some time ago, in response to FOIA requests from you. Accordingly, your request, as presently worded, simply does not provide a reasonable description of the records you are seeking.

We will await your response before taking any action on the other portion of your request. If you are seeking documents other than reports of activity which have already been released to you and other FOIA requesters, we must advise that a search of records in various offices will be required and may be non-productive. We are unable to provide an estimate of search time until we know what records you want.”.

Simply put, Col. Rodeen is saying that the two-page telex was formulated from raw, incoming information, all of which had already been released to Todd and other researchers. This may well be true. However, Col. Rodeen also states that “…documents other than reports of activity which have already been released…” will require “…a search of records in various offices... …and may be non-productive”. Further enquiries on this particular matter were unproductive, as Todd wasn’t able to be specify the exact types of records that would apply to his enquiry. Col. Rodeen’s reply letter is imaged below.


Although I have presented the above mentioned CINCNORAD telex message in Part 5 of this series, it is worth imaging again once more.



One question which is occasionally raised revolves around the “linking” of so many unsolvable sightings over various far-flung military installations. When dealing with the media, NORAD claimed that the events were seemingly isolated. However, when one reviews the above two-page telex message, it is immediately stated that:

“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.”

The fact that the five main “over flight” locations are lumped together in the opening passage could indicate that NORAD believed, by the 11th of November, the strange events to be connected. Even the possibility of a connection must have been deliberated. Certainly, the wave of UFO sightings was being taken seriously by NORAD personnel, as they should have, but no solid explanations were being offered. In fact, the CINCNORAD telex message was formulated two weeks since the first “suspicious object” sightings had occurred, so it’s no wonder that there was a desire to “…prevent overreaction by the public”. Furthermore, the claim that NORAD was doing “…everything possible to identify and provide solid factual information on these sightings…” also demonstrates a level of coordinated response. Under some pressure from NORAD, the Secretary of the Air Force’s Office of Information (SAFOI) made a judgement, for want of a better word, regarding whether the sightings were connected, and, formulated a rough guide on how individual commands should handle media enquiries. This information was conveyed in one-page telex message dated the 14th of November, 1975, and originated, specifically, from the Policy Directorate of the SAFOI. The primary addressees were the CINCNORAD at Ent AFB, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC) at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. The Secretary of Defence’s Office of Public Affairs (SECDEF PA) also received a copy. On the 6th of May, 1980, a copy of this telex was released to Robert Todd by Anne Wilkinson, FOI Manager, Headquarters, USAF. It reads:

            “1.  WE BELIEVE, AND OASD/PA CONCURS, THAT UNLESS THERE IS EVIDENCE WHICH LINKS SIGHTINGS OR UNLESS MEDIA QUERIES LINK SIGHTINGS, QUERIES CAN BEST BE HANDLED INDUVIDUALLY AT THE SOURCE AND AS QUESTIONS ARISE. RESPONSES SHOULD BE DIRECT, FORTHRIGHT AND EMPHASIZE THAT THE ACTION TAKEN WAS IN RESPONSE TO AN ISOLATED OR SPECIFIC INCIDENT. IOS SHOULD KEEP ALL LEVELS AND APPROPRIATE MAJCOMS INFORMED OF QUESTIONS ASKED, MEDIA AFFILIATIONS AND RESPONSES GIVEN.
2.   ON DEC 17, 1969, THE AIR FORCE ANNOUNCED TERMINATION OF PROJECT BLUE BOOK, THE PROGRAM FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF UFOS. SINCE THEN, NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN PRESENTED TO INDICATE FURTHER INVESTIGATION BY THE AIR FORCE IS WARRENTED. THERE ARE NO PLANS FOR RENEWED AIR FORCE INVOLVEMENT IN THIS AREA.”

          Whether the unexplained sightings were connected or not, the SAFOI, as well as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence (OASD), were keen to have local Commanders take a safe approach with the press. The above detailed SAFOI telex is imaged below.






By 1981, NORAD’s Directorate of Administration (NORAD/DAD) could not keep up with the increasing number of FOI requests. It is worth mentioning that Robert Todd, the most consistent and forceful requestor of records, was a member of the civilian research group “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy” (CAUS) even if his correspondence didn’t always mention that fact. Other members included Barry Greenwood, Lawrence Fawcett, Brad Sparks, Todd Zechel and Larry Bryant. Combined, these researchers were seeing that NORAD, and to a lesser extent ADCOM, were releasing records six years after the 1975 “over flights” occurred. Sometimes unseen records were still being found and declassified, but often researchers were merely receiving copies of items already released. Either way, something had to be done to stem the tide. On the 1st of October, 1981, Col. James H. Rix, NORAD’s Director of Administration, issued a memorandum to the eight NORAD Regions advising that Robert Todd, and the CAUS group generally, be singled out for stricter FOI Act fee assessing. While there is no question that the number of requests for NORAD records had, thus far, been very frequent and recurrent, it is almost unheard of that one person or group be highlighted in official policy. Carrying the subject line “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Fees Assessment”, Col. Rix’s memorandum reads:

“1. Interim message change 80-1 to AFR 12-30 tells us to automatically waive search and duplication costs for single FOIA requests if those costs total less than #30.00. This change also permits FOIA managers to set aside the automatic waiver provision when, on the basis of good evidence, they can demonstrate that waiver of fees is not in the public interest.

2. Because of cumulative and recurring FOIA requests, we will no longer waive FOIA search and duplication fees, even though they may total less than $30.00, for Mr. Robert Todd, 2528 Belmont Ave, Ardmore, PA and the “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy” (CAUS). Further, we believe it is in the public interest to have Mr. Todd and CAUS pay for records searches even though no responsive records are located.”

3. Accordingly, NORAD Headquarters and NORAD Regions will, upon receipt of a FOIA request for records from Mr. Todd, or the “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy”, advise him or them of estimated search and copying fees and obtain agreement to pay before processing the request. Advise that search fees will be assessed even though no responsive records are located. If Mr. Todd or CAUS appeals fee assessment, forward the request to HQ NORAD/DADF for further processing.”

Col. Rix’s decision took effect immediately. Newly submitted requests, by both Robert Todd and Todd Zechel in November, 1981, were met with assessment fees, no matter how straightforward the record search process was. Likewise, when no records were found, large fees suddenly applied, with some in the many hundreds of dollars. Such costs immediately prohibited all but the most targeted FOI action. There was nothing technically wrong with NORAD’s interpretation of the FOI Act, and, in fact, NORAD had been quite patient with Robert Todd and the CAUS team up until this point. Page 4 of “Air Force Regulation 12-30, Information Management” (AFR 12-30), published on the 5th of September, 1980, in conjunction with amendment 80-1, dated August 12th, 1981, allowed for much stricter application of cost assessments when it could be reasonably shown that “public interest” is not being served. It could easily be argued that frequent and very similar FOI requests, by the same requestors, were not an efficient or fair use of the FOI Act, and, thus, not in the best interests of the tax paying public. Having said that, it could likewise be argued that NORAD, as well as the wider USAF, who researchers were also pummelling with FOI requests, changed their regulations to stop requestors forcing sensitive records being released. The fact that Col. Rix’s 1st of October memorandum specifically mentioned Robert Todd and the CAUS group, could be an indication that NORAD simply couldn’t tolerate the release of further records, especially if such records were more substantive or sensitive than what had already come out. The memorandum in question is imaged below.


As I have demonstrated, NORAD and ADCOM had, by 1981, released a fairly significant quantity of records which directly related to “UFOs” and “unknown objects” over US and Canadian military bases throughout late 1975. Likewise, significant records were regularly withheld. For example, on the 4th of October, 1977, ADCOM’s Director of Administration, Col. Terrence C. James, released a series extracts from the NORAD Combat Operation Center (NCOC) “Command Directors Log”, and the 24th NORAD Region “Senior Directors Log”, to researcher Todd Zechel. The same material had been released previously to Robert Todd on the 26th of August, 1977, and the 15th of September, 1977. There was, however, one difference. In his reply to Zechel, Col. James admitted the existence of one more document, stating:

“2. HQ USAF/DADF also forwarded a copy of a NORAD document for a review for possible downgrade and release.  We have determined the document if properly and currently classified and is exempt from disclosure under Public Law 90-23, 5 USC 552b(1).

3. The decision to withhold release of this document may be appealed un writing to the Secretary of the Air Force within 45 days from the date of this letter. If you appeal, include any reasons for reconsideration you with to present and attach a copy of this letter. Address your letter as follows: Secretary of the Air Force, thru HQ ADCOM/DAD, Peterson AFB CO 80914.”

Evidently, the FOI desk at the USAF’s Directorate of Administration (USAF/DADF) had located a NORAD-generated document which NORAD had failed to previously locate in their own records, or, had not wanted to admit existed. Either way, the document was “properly and currently classified” and was “exempt from disclosure”. Under the FOI Act any decision, by any government agency, to withhold records could be appealed in writing. Zechel lodged an appeal of Col. James’s decision on the 29th of October, 1977, but it was unsuccessful. I have imaged the relevant page below.


             There were occasions where researchers, especially Robert Todd, vented their frustration directly at NORAD and ADCOM. Inconsistent and evasive answers, some of which I have demonstrated at length, were duly noted, and often responded to straight away. One such example is a 29th of April, 1978 reply letter to Maj. Donald B. Stephens, Chief of NORAD’s Community Relations Division, who had been failing to answer Todd’s questions for months, and on some occasions, given inaccurate and untruthful answers. Todd’s letter, which I highlight here because of the richness of varying frustrations, reads:

“Your letter of 25th April 1978 was most apricated, particularly your remarks concerning the differences between the terms “UFO” and “unknown tracks”. Unfortunately, I fear your statement that at last, we may be getting somewhere, was a bit premature.

According to NORAD/DO message 131617Z Nov 75, there is little, if any, difference between the terms “UFO” and “unknown object”. In fact, the cited message established a requirement to report “unknown objects” (i.e., UFOs) in the same manner that unknown tracks are reported, even when “such observations did not result in track establishment”. Many NORAD Region/Air Divisions have incorporated the unknown object reporting procedures into their unknown track reporting procedures.

Without question, the NORAD/DO message was the result of many UFO overflights of SAC Weapons Storage Areas (WSAs) and Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) during October-November 1975. Of course, you denied any knowledge of these overflights in your letter of 26 August 1977.

I would very much like to know just what is going on. Was the UFO “flap” of October-November 1975 responsible for the NORAD/DO message? Is there still a requirement to forward UFO reports to HQ NORAD, and why? Is it correct to assume that there are no differences between “UFOs” and “unknown objects”? And, finally, why the does the government, which includes the Air Force and NORAD, insist on feeding the public so much baloney?

You may argue that you have been cooperative in responding to my many and varied requests for information. So might I, if it were not for the fact that all I seem to get is misleading statements, if not outright propaganda.”

Todd’s queries and accusations are fair. Firstly, he highlights the fact that one particular NORAD message, sent from NORAD Headquarters to all NORAD Regions on the 13th of November, 1975, stated that “…unknown object information will be forwarded in the same manner as for reporting unknown tracks…”. It is quite reasonable to ask what the difference is between NORAD’s “unknown objects”, versus the more traditional term “unidentified flying objects” or “UFOs”. Of course, there is none. Secondly, notable is Todd’s statement “…Of course, you denied any knowledge of these overflights in your letter of 26 August 1977.”. Here, he is referring to Maj. Stephens 26th of August, 1977 letter where Todd was told “…my check of files shows nothing that seems to correlate” regarding unidentified over flights of USAF bases near the Canadian border. As we know from the wealth of released documents, this is absolute nonsense. Thirdly, an exacerbated Todd dishes out more generalised queries like “…why the does the government, which includes the Air Force and NORAD, insist on feeding the public so much baloney?” and “all I seem to get is misleading statements, if not outright propaganda.” Possibly the most powerful of Todd’s statements is simply “I would very much like to know just what is going on”. Interestingly, Maj. Stephens never replied. Todd’s letter is imaged below.


           Aside from specific documentation that was withheld, there was other material either not accessed during searches, or, otherwise not admitted to at all. As I have highlighted, especially in Part 8 of this series, the NORAD and ADCOM Regions maintained so-called “Senior Director Logs”. The 23rd and 24th NORAD Regions released extracts of these logs which contained numerous and specific references to UFO’s. The “Senior Director Log” was, however, one of many logs that possibly contained minute-by-minute entries concerning unidentified objects. During FOI correspondence with the 20th NORAD Region (20th NR), Robert Todd obtained a copy of an operational instruction titled “20th NORAD Region Regional Control Center, Operations, Instruction 55-7, Control Center Operations Logs”. On page 1 it is stated that:

“The Senior Director (SD), Air Surveillance Officer (ASO) and the Identification Officer (IDO) will be responsible for insuring that an accurate record of events, and prescribed by this directive, is recorded in the Control Center Operations Logs. The Air Surveillance Officer will also insure that logs maintained by Manual Data (MD), Radar Inputs Countermeasure Officer (RICMO) and Height are utilized in accordance with prescribing directives.”

Thus, it is apparent that the NORAD Regions each maintained an “Air Surveillance Officer Log” and an “Identification Officer Log” alongside their “Senior Director Log”. Furthermore, the Air Surveillance Officer was also responsible, in part, for logs maintained by the Manual Data Supervisor, Radar Inputs Countermeasure Officer and Height Supervisor. Todd never had the chance to ask the NORAD Regions such log extracts that would have corresponded with the 1975 “over flights”. After two years, routine document destruction scheduling allowed for such material to be turned over to ADCOM for incineration. I have imaged the first page of “20th NORAD Region Regional Control Center, Operations, Instruction 55-7, Control Center Operations Logs” below.


             There is no question that ADCOM and NORAD released a large quantity of records to researchers, who were dogged in their application of the FOI Act, over a six year period following the strange events of 1975 and, to a lesser extent, 1976. There is likewise little doubt that both agencies were not keen on releasing other records which, to this day, remain classified. In both this entry, and Part 8, I demonstrated numerous occasions where records were withheld, or, where deception occurred in relation to what records were retrievable. In some cases, ADCOM and NORAD officials simply denied the existence of certain documents, only to then begrudgingly release them at a later date, and only through the threat of appeals and further voluminous FOI action. Aside from the fact that information was withheld, it is evident that ADCOM and NORAD did take “UFOs” seriously, and, treated them as such. Both agencies at least believed that unusual airborne activity was occurring over four sensitive, nuclear armed USAF bases, and vitally important Canadian installations, for two weeks. In all the records released, none discuss mundane solutions. It would be extremely surprising if ADCOM or NORAD, probably aided by, or in aid of, the USAF, did not produce any final discussion papers, opinion pieces, point papers or command level reports. When researchers attempted to obtain such information, the lid had already come down, and, after 1982, nothing else was declassified and released. In Part 10 of this series, I will begin to discuss the role the Strategic Air Command (SAC) played in the weird events of 1975.

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