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The US military’s high-priority UFO reporting system

The U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) official investigation into UFOs ended in 1969, and since then, the military has claimed they have no interest in the topic, nor do they investigate UFOs. However, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), investigators have uncovered several documents that would indicate UFOs have been of interest, and that the most important files were most likely never made public.

The USAF began officially investigating UFOs in 1948 as Project Sign. This evolved into Project Grudge, and finally into the well-known, Project Blue Book. The best behind the scenes look into these projects was written by Blue Book’s director, Captain Edward Ruppelt.  It is titled, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, and can be read on the internet for free.

Edward Ruppelt (standing center) at July 29, 1952 Pentagon UFO press conference. Also pictured, Major Generals Roger Ramey (seated left), USAF operations chief, and John A. Samford (seated right), USAF director of intelligence. (image credit: Wikipedia)
Edward Ruppelt (standing center) at July 29, 1952 Pentagon UFO press conference. Also pictured, Major Generals Roger Ramey (seated left), USAF operations chief, and John A. Samford (seated right), USAF director of intelligence. (image credit: Wikipedia)

Much has been made of the Blue Book investigations, and as Ruppelt admits in his book, there were many extraordinary investigations that have yet to be solved. However, what is perhaps more extraordinary is that the most significant military reports were not sent to Blue Book.

Blue Book was closed in 1969, after a study conducted by the University of Colorado and the USAF determined there was no merit to the project. The reasons Project Blue Book should be closed were outlined in a document dated October 20, 1969, prepared by USAF Deputy Director of Development Brigadier General C.H. Bolender.

To highlight his point that Blue Book was unnecessary, he wrote “reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55-11, and are not part of the Blue Book system (Atch 10).”

Bolender continued, “The Air Force experience therefore confirms the impression of the University of Colorado researchers ‘that the defense function could be performed within the framework established for intelligence and surveillance operations without the continuance of a special unit such as Project Blue Book.'”

So what is JANAP 146? JANAP stands for Joint Army, Navy, Air Force Publication, and documents such as the Air Force Manual 55-11 are based off of them. JANAP 146 details “Communication Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings [aka CIRVIS].” According to a copy of JANAP 146 found on the NSA’s website, this includes reporting “Unidentified flying objects.”

Excerpt from JANAP 146 on NSA website.
Excerpt from JANAP 146 on NSA website.

A website hosted by the Library and Archives of Canada regarding Canada’s UFO files, includes a poster with images of UFOs used to demonstrate what was to be reported. The website says that Canada instituted a joint reporting system with the U.S. called CIRIVS/MERINT in 1959-1960. However, copies of JANAP 146 can be found dating back to the early 1950s. The most recent reference to the JANAP 146 instructions was found in an U.S. Air Force document called Air Force Instruction (AFI) 10-206 in 2011.

Section of poster showing what to report.
Section of poster showing what to report.

The circumstances surrounding the deletion of this reference are very peculiar. John Greenewald, creator of The Black Vault, often references AFI 10-206 in lectures and even included it in a History Channel documentary on UFOs he helped produce. He felt it demonstrated that despite what they tell the public, the USAF is still interested in UFOs.

In 2011, Lee Speigel, staff writer for The Huffington Post, decided to write an article on the document. Greenewald helped him find the document on the USAF website, and sure enough, it still referenced reporting UFOs. However, a few days later, when Speigel went to get a screenshot of the document for his story, the chapter had been changed. He wrote about this coincidence in his article.

Greenewald sent a FOIA request to get information on what had changed and why the changes had been made. They sent him a report, and in it, they list CIRVIS as no longer existing or being required. Even so, the timing of its removal was extraordinary.

On his website, Greenewald also chronicles his effort to find the CIRVIS UFO reports. CIRVIS reports were to be sent to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). However, when Greenewald sent a FOIA request for these files, he was sent a response that stated: “NORAD is a binational command established by Volume 33, United States Treaties (UST), page 1277, subject to control of both Canadian and US Government agencies as defined in the Act and consequently is not subject to the US FOIA.”

Although, according to this statement, they were not required to send Greenewald their UFO files, Greenewald says, “The letter went on to state that in the spirit of the FOIA, they looked for UFO information but found no records.”

Greenewald finds that odd. Especially, after finding out that the Canadians were much more open with their files, and they did receive CIRVIS UFO reports.

Greenewald says in “circa 2000,” he decided to contact the Canadian government to inquire if he could get copies of any UFO reports they received via CIRVIS. Canada’s version of FOIA is the Access to Information Act (AIA). Greenewald called Canada’s Department of National Defense to find out if, as an U.S. citizen he could submit an AIA request.

He says he asked the person who answered the phone this question, and was told if the files were released to a Canadian, it should not be a problem to also get them to him. Greenewald then explained the types of files he was looking for, and to his utter amazement, the Canadian official said he had them laying right there on his desk. For $3 Greenewald was able to have the files shipped to him, and now has them on his website. There are several UFO sightings from the 90s in the documents.

Excerpt from a Canadian CIRVIS UFO file. (Credit: TheBaclVault/Canadian Government)
Excerpt from a Canadian CIRVIS UFO file.

So where have the U.S. reports gone? It could be NORAD is being less than honest when they say they do not have any UFO reports, or they are playing games and their reports do not use the term “UFO.” Efforts to retreive these files are still underway. However, there is another avenue that is used to report important UFO events.

In the place of CIRVIS, AFI 10-206 now references what is called Operational Reporting (OPREP).  In the past, UFO researchers have noted the term OPREP-3 on UFO documents. Australian UFO researcher Paul Dean, has been taking a closer look, and it appears this may be the way important UFO sightings are being reported by the military today.

OPREP excerpt from AFI 10-206. (Credit: USAF)
OPREP excerpt from AFI 10-206. (Credit: USAF)

The current AFI 10-206 states: “The OPREP-3 system provides CSAF [Chief of Staff of the Air Force] and intermediate commanders the information necessary for timely operational decisions. The main criterion for inclusion in the OPREP-3 system is essential information for command and control of aerospace forces.”

In other words, these are reports that are so important they need to be quickly communicated straight up to the top of command.

The instructions give guidance to different levels of importance and categories of reports that are identified by “flagwords.” For instance, an OPREP-3 PINNACLE (OPREP-3P) is a report that requires immediate notification to command and, among other things, is of “national-level interest.” NUCFLASH is used for missile launches and re-entering space debris. BROKEN ARROW is a nuclear weapon detonation or radioactive contamination. FADED GIANT relates to nuclear reactor or radiological accidents or incidents. The lowest level is BEELINE, which is an OPREP-3 report that is AF-level, but not national-level.

Navy "flagwords" for OPREP-3 reporting.
Navy “flagwords” for OPREP-3 reporting.

There are many levels of OPREP-3 reporting, but these are some that we will reference in this story. Dean has also found that OPREP-3 is used among all branches of the military, and some branches have their own flagwords.

Dean first noticed that OPREP-3 was being used to report UFOs when he was looking into UFO cases in the 70s, in particular a case from the Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range in Florida on May 14, 1978. The case made it into the papers, including a newspaper covering the military called Pacific Stars and Stripes.

According to the OPREP-3 report, the incident began at about 10 pm local time when a woman called the Pinecastle Range to ask if they had any flares being dropped in the area. The duty officer said no, and she described seeing strange lights above nearby trees. She said they were red, green and white. Soon after she disconnected, another witness called saying he and around 18 other witnesses were also seeing the lights.

Naval personnel also saw the lights, and they were able to track the object on radar. According to the report, the radar operator said the object seemed to be “evading his efforts to lock and track it on the computer,” and at one point the object was moving at 400-500 knots (about 460-575 mph).

The report was marked OPREP-3 NAVY BLUE, a Navy flagword that means the incident is of Navy interest, but not national, and does not fit under another flagword.

There has also been at least one report that has garnered an OPREP-3 PINNACLE, which, as was covered earlier, is a highly important report needing immediate attention. Dean discovered this file in a group of files that was released from a FOIA request by UFO researchers Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett for the books Clear Intent and UFO Cover Up: What the Government Won’t Say.

This report was part of a string of sightings on the U.S. and Canadian border. This file can also be found on the Department of Defense (DoD) website. It is on page 39 of a DoD pdf of UFO files. The report reads: “A visual sighting of an unidentified object has reported at Loring CRC 4NM NNW of Loring AFB.”

This was likely rated PINNACLE because Loring Air Force base houses nuclear weapons.

 Loring Air Force Base, Weapons Storage Area, 1960s. (Credit: Wikimedia/Library of Congress)
Loring Air Force Base, Weapons Storage Area, 1960s. (Credit: Wikimedia/Library of Congress)

In another case, the OPREP-3 reports state that an unidentified helicopter or low flying aircraft flew over the weapons storage area at Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan. The aircraft were never found or identified.

It is no wonder that these cases are deserving of a vital reporting system such as OPREP-3. It is also no wonder that despite telling the public they are not interested in UFOs, they are in fact investigating these shocking cases of unidentified aircraft violating our most secure airspace. Recently, we covered the story of the release of a documentary with military witnesses whom had been present at nuclear bases when UFOs were spotted.

Dean says he and his UK based colleague David Charmichael, are still submitting FOIA requests for OPREP-3 UFO reports, but thus far, have been told they do not exist. As he notes in his article, it is likely a matter of getting the wording right. It is a sort of game.

The DoD has posted a document on OPREP-3 that was released due to a FOIA request by a man named Armen Victorian. Dean says Charmichael was in contact with Victorian in the past, and that Victorian had received a letter from the Office of the Secretary of Defence (OSD) that stated: “OPREP–3 reports containing information relating to unknown objects near US military installations are considered extremely sensitive, and thus not releasable.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff version of OPREP-3 reporting instructions found in DoD file released to Armen Victorian. (Credit: JCS/DoD)
Joint Chiefs of Staff version of OPREP-3 reporting instructions found in DoD file released to Armen Victorian. (Credit: JCS/DoD)

While that rings true, Dean has not been able to contact Victorian to get a copy of the letter, and they have not received a similar response to their FOIA requests. It would be shocking to have the military admit they have information on unknown objects, even though the OPREP-3 documents released thus far demonstrate unknown aircraft have been observed and tracked on radar.

Dean and Charmichael have received the response, “…the responsibilities of addressing unidentified aerial devices or objects fall directly under the control of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)…”

Of course, NORAD is not subject to FOIA – isn’t that convenient, and the FAA has recently told Greenewald they have no UFO files, which is in contrast to earlier statements.

In an interview on Open Minds UFO Radio, Dean says NORAD has told him they do not study “unknown tracks” or “NORAD remaining unknowns.” He has been able to track those reports to an organization called the Center for Aerospace Analysis. However, he has also found that this organization no longer exists.

Dean continues to pursue NORAD for answers, and we will be sure to update you on what he finds.

Project Blue Book includes thousands of reports, and many of them are very interesting and, according to the USAF, around 701 of them remain unsolved. Even more important is the fact that these did not include the most important cases. Those apparently went to CIRVIS and/or OPREP-3. The paper trail shows us UFO reports did go to OPREP-3, and the few reports that have been released, along with the credible testimony of military witnesses, demonstrate unidentified objects flew over bases with nuclear weapons, and the military did take notice.

Perhaps, the dogged pursuit of these files will result in further enlightening us on the facts of these cases, and adding to the evidence that something, or someone, with capabilities beyond our own, might be compromising our most secure military airspace at will.

Listen to the interview with Paul Dean on OPREP-3 below.

Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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