Monday, June 20, 2016

Did the DSTO investigate UAP reports?

In my last post, I mentioned that details of  a file about UAP, originating from the Defence Scientific and Technology Organisation (DSTO) had, for the first time,  just popped up in the RecordSearch database of the National Archives of Australia (NAA.)  I wondered what references had been made to the DSTO in Australian UAP literature?

Bill Chalker

In part three of his 1996 article 'UFOs sub Rosa Down Under,' Sydney based researcher Bill Chalker, wrote in part:

"A firm proposal was developed with the team to operate within the Defence Science and Technical Organisation (DSTO.)"

Here, Bill was speaking of the year 1969, and a proposed 'Secret Military "Rapid Intervention" Team.' The architect of this team was Harry Turner, then in the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) in the Australian Department of Defence.

I wondered whether or not, this reference to the DSTO, in the year 1969, was correct? Official government sources state that the DSTO was not created until 1974.

I therefore conducted further research. Firstly, I examined the digital copy of the JIB's UAP file in the National Archives of Australia (NAA.) NAA file series JIO63, control symbol 3092/2/000 titled 'Scientific Intelligence - General - Unidentified Flying Objects,' has a date range of 1957-1971. Although there are documents originating from Harry Turner on this file, there are no papers which mention the proposal for a 'secret' team, nor any reference to the DSTO (which of course wasn't created until 1974.)

Secondly, I read further portions of  'UFOs sub Rosa' and found "George Barlow of Defence Science and Technology (DST) had also offered the help of his group." So, here is mention of DST, but not DSTO.

George Barlow
I therefore searched the Internet, for information about the career of George Barlow. Did he work for the DSTO at any time? I found that in 1965 he worked for the then Department of Supply. In 1968, he was transferred to Canberra and took up the position of First Assistant Secretary/Defence Science. Then, in 1974 he moved into the newly created DSTO.

In summary, Bill's DSTO reference for 1969, seems to be incorrect, as the DSTO was not formed until 1974.

John Auchettl

At a 1998 Sydney UAP conference, Melbourne based researcher John Auchettl recounted an October 1997 'Pine Gap UFO intrusion' allegedly involving a UFO encounter leaving physical evidence. Bill Chalker in an 'Ozfiles' blog post dated 20 October 2011, cites details of Auchettl's presentation. In part, Bill wrote:

"I suspect that the Pine Gap people and DSTO (allegedly also involved in investigating the event)..."

However, nothing further is known about this alleged DSTO involvement.

Paul Dean

After reading my previous blog post, Melbourne based researcher Paul Dean, recalled that when the Department of Defence General Admin UAS policy was cancelled in 2012, that the distribution list of the cancellation memo had a DSTO officer on it.

The DSTO officer is listed as 'COO (DSTO) (F2-2-017.)' An Internet search found that COO stands for 'Chief Operations Officer.' F2-2-017, from FOI request knowledge, is a specific Department of Defence office address in Canberra.

Why a copy of a memo cancelling a Department of Defence UAS policy should be sent to the DSTO is unknown at this time.


There are other vague rumours on various Internet sites of UAP being seen in DSTO facilities in South Australia. These are simply rumours, with no hard documentation to back up the stories.

In summary, it will be fascinating to see what is actually on the DSTO file which has just surfaced in the NAA. Hopefully, I should have arranged for it to be examined, made available, and digitised, by December this year.

Update as at 26 May 2017

The National Archives of Australia are still in the process of moving millions of their hard copy files to a new purpose built repository, and advise this may be completed by 1 July 2017. This has delayed requests for access for files. I have several requests caught up in this delay, including the above DSTO file.

Today I received the following email from the NAA.

1 comment:

  1. What would have been more correct is that the rapid intervention team was coming together within elements of Defence Science that would eventually become DSTO. My sources were Dr. John Farrands, George Barlow and Harry Turner, all of whom I interviewed. It was Farrands who gave me the 1969 date. Farrands was Chief Defence Scientist from 1971 to 1977, head of ARL from 1967 to 1971. It was Farrands who told me that his predecessor Arthur Wills as Chief Defence Scientist from 1968 to 1971 had sanctioned the proposal. Turner was driving it. Rather than the entities that would become DSTO, it was the drivers of the changes - the chief defence scientists and their supporters - that back the proposal (Wills, Barlow etc). Thus my UFO Sub Rosa piece is still valid, just not my loose use of the entities that would become DSTO: "The team was to consist of 4 or 5 scientists, with its mainstay to be rapid intervention into UFO "landing" events, for which an aircraft was to be on standby. Turner, in a memo dated November 8th, 1969, to the Director of JIB, indicated that he had Dr. Morton from ANU, Dr. John Symonds from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and Dr. Mike Duggin, then of the National Standards Laboratory. George Barlow, of Defence Science and Technology (DST) had also offered the help of his group. Turner indicated that Arthur Wills, then Chief Defence Scientist "had agreed to this." The plans for the scientific team had been almost completed and authorisation to proceed appeared imminent. However fate had already intervened." I also interviewed Symonds and Duggin. Turner did not let go and persisted, but ultimately without success. Farrands was still supportive. I have not found Turners Nov 1969 memo that Farrands cited to me.