In a post dated 1 September 2016, I mentioned one outcome of a 2004 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Australian Department of Defence (DOD). This was, that in asking for a copy of numerous UAP files, they had advised me that one file, numbered AF84/3508 was unable to be located. Over the years since then, it never did turn up. Until now.
Recently, Melbourne researcher Paul Dean, forwarded me the results of one of his FOIA requests to the DOD. Among the various chains of internal back and forth emails responding to Paul's request, I noted a reference to the long lost file. In November 2015, the file was stated to have been renumbered as 2007/1008750 and was then held at the DOD archives.
A new FOIA request
I therefore submitted an application under the FOIA for a copy of this file. The DOD promptly provided me with a PDF copy of the file, and at no cost. What is in these 54 pages?
It turns out that this file is a policy file, containing no sighting reports, merely policy documents. We have long been aware of the main DOD/RAAF UAP policy file series, number A703, control symbol 554/1/30 parts 1-3, with a date range of 1953-1983. Digitised copies are available in the National Archives of Australia.
So what is on this file?
pp53-54. Memo 12 April 1984. From Deputy Chief of the Air Staff to HQ OC and HQSC. Subject UAS policy. 'Enclosure 1 states the amended RAAF policy on UAS.' Essentially this was, that as from 1984 only sightings with defence or security implications would be investigated further than Formation HQ.
pp51-52. Minute. 9 July 1993. From HQ Training Command to DAFPOL. HQFBN are requesting a policy review.
pp47-50. Minute. August 1993. From B Biddington AFPOL3 to DAFPOL. Re UAS policy and proposed changes. Draft.
'The nub of current policy is that RAAF only investigates UAS reports deemed to have defence or national security significance (whatever that means). I do not know when the RAAF last conducted a thorough UAS investigation.'
' For these reasons I do not think the RAAF can or should completely abrogate its responsibilities regarding UAS.'
'Careful consideration of the scientific record suggests that whilst not all UAS have a ready explanation''''
'The RAAF has accumulated a series of UAS reports dating back to the 1960's...These may be accessed by researchers subject to them agreeing to respect the privacy of individuals who made the reports.'
p.46. Fax. From Directorate of Air Force Policy - AFPOL3 - Air Force Intelligence. To RAAF Intel Office Melbourne. 26 August 1993. Draft UAS policy as per pp 47-50.
p.45. Fax. From DOSS-AF Canberra to SQNLDR Gibson, 92 WG EDN. 16 August 1993. Draft UAS policy.
pp39-44. Minute. pp47-50 returned with hand written note 'Ok. Prepare brief for CAS and draft policy letter (?) me and DGPP.' DAFPOL.
p.38. Telex. From HQTC to HQFBN. 12 September 1993. Policy and procedures UAS likely to change in near future.
pp26-37. Brief for CAS. UAS policy. 15 October 1993. Changes necessary '...because of the reduced number of out of hours personnel at a number of bases. This has prompted a review of policy as it should apply across the RAAF.'
'There are two basic problems with the current policy:
a. It is impossible in assess in advance whether a sighting may have defence or security significance.
b. Resources devoted by RAAF to UAS investigations have dwindled over the years to the point that our stated commitment to investigate is not put into effect.'
p.25. Covering slip. 'Office of the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff. Handwritten note. 'CAS has agreed this as (amended?)'
p.24. 'Chief of the Air Staff. 19 October 1993.
pp21-23. DOD message form. 24 December 1993. From DEPAIR/DGPP to six telex numbers. UAS revised policy. Advising RAAF bases.
pp12-20. Air Command. Air Staff Information No 3/A/5. 31 March 1989. 'Intelligence reports on Unusual Aerial Sightings.'
pp8-11. Letter from DOD Air Force Office (DODAFO) dated 4 January 1994 to Australian Center for UFO Studies. Advising new policy.
p7. Letter. From DODAFO to UFO Research NSW dated 4 January 1994 advising of policy change.
pp2-6. Fax. From DAFI A- FPOL3. August 1993. To RAAF Intel Office Melbourne. Red ink stamped copy. 'Air Intelligence Office Melbourne. 27 August 1993. Apparently a copy of p46 plus draft policy.
p.1. Statement that all of 84/3508 is accounted for.
1. This file appears to be a continuation of file series A703, control symbol 554/1/30 parts 1-3.
2. Why a 1984 file, which should by all rights, be in the National Archives of Australia, was re-numbered 2007/1008750 and held by DOD Archives, remains a mystery, as no new papers were added after 1994.
Cynics might suggest this was because the DOD' 'right hand' didn't know what the 'left hand' was doing.
Conspiracy minded individuals might say it was because the DOD wished to keep the internal reasons for the change of policy to themselves. The fact that the policy was forwarded to RAAF bases on Xmas eve, could be said to argue for wishing to draw as little media attention to it as possible. Indeed the DOD didn't issue any media releases; it simply wrote to UAP groups.
Myself, I always default to the 'foul-up' rather than the 'cover-up.'
3. Paul Dean, wrote about his own FOIA efforts to learn about the reason for the 1994 policy change in a post on his blog, dated 21 February 2016, titled 'Significant release of Never-Before-Seen Australian government UFO policy...'
4. On a humorous note, see the logo below:
Update as at 10 October 2016
1. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper has picked up the story, see:
2. The Department of Defence's FOI Act Disclosure Log now has a downloadable PDF copy of the actual DOD file.