Thursday, March 26, 2020

The US Navy - UAP FOIA requests - a summary

"If it was anything other than national security, the DoD would not be involved. The Air Force wouldn't be involved; Navy wouldn't be involved..."

A quote from Luis Elizondo, when he spoke at the March 2019, Symposium of the Scientific Coalition for Ufology. 


Many researchers have submitted US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) using keywords "UFO;" UAP;" AATIP;" and "AAWSAP." A backlog of FOIA requests has been cited by the DIA as the reason for their inability to respond to the majority of those requests. The United States Navy (USN) on the other hand, has been comparitively quick to respond to such requests directed at them.


Since 2016, a very small number of UAP researchers have submitted FOIA requests to the USN, using keywords such as "unidentified aircraft;" "UFO;" "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena"(UAP;)
and "Anomalous Aerial Vehicle."

The purpose of this post is to take a look at the known requests and document the results, all in one place. There may well be other individuals, of whom I am not aware, who have submitted similar requests. If any reader knows of such requests, I would appreciat hearing from you.

The Scientific Coalition for Ufology

The Scientific Coalition for Ufology (SCU) published a report titled "A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven's Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle." In this report, the SCU advised that they filed 26 FOIA requests, which included a number to the USN, starting in December 2016. This was a year before the famous New York Times article revealed the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) and discussed the November 2004 USS Nimitz encounters.

Negative responses to the USN FOIA requests, by SCU,  came from:

1. Commander Naval Surface Force US Pacific Fleet.

2. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

3. Commander Naval Air Force Pacific.

4. Office of Naval Intelligence.

5. Commander United States Pacific Fleet.

6. Naval Inspector General.

FOIA DON-NAVY-2019-006272

On 26 April 2019 US researcher John Greenewald, of The Black Vault, submitted an FOIA request to the USN, for "All emails sent to/from (or cc'd or bcc'd) Joseph Gradisher, spokesperson for Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, which included the following keyword "UFO" and/or "unidentified aircraft."

The response, dated 28 June 2019 from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, advised the finding of two records totaling sixty three pages, responsive to the request.

In a blog post dated 27 August 2019 I analyzed the contents of these emails. Many of them dealt with requests for information from various media orgaizations.

There were a number of US DoD individuals mentioned as addressees, including Admirals, Vice Admirals and one John F Stratton, a US NIMITZ OPINTELCEN senior analyst.

Information new to me which I found in the emails included:

1. It was the US Navy Office of Legislative Affairs which organised the Congressional briefings by Naval Intelligence officials.

2. Vice Admiral Kohler briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee's, Seapower subcommittee in December 2018.

3. There was an email from Stratton to B Lyn Wright SES USN DCNO N2N6:

"The US Navy is at the forefront of this effort but works across the Department of Defense to ensure other service partners maintain awareness for the safety of their aviators. The US Navy is not working with any entities outside of the US government."

FOIA DON-NAVY- 2019-008878

On 9 July 2019, John Greenewald also submitted another FOIA request, for a "copy of records, electronic or otherwise all emails to/from/cc'd/bcc'd Joseph Gradisher and Politico reporter Bryan Bender."

The response came from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and identified two records, totaling two pages, responsive to the request.

Essentially, on 20 June 2019, Bender was provided with the following statement:

"Navy officials did indeed meet with interested congressional members and staffers on Wednesday to provide a classified brief on efforts to understand and identify these threats to the safety and security of our aviators. Follow up discussions with other interested staffers are scheduled for later today (Thursday, 20 June.) Navy officials will continue to keep interested congressional members and staff informed. Given the classified nature of these discussions, we will not comment on the specific information provided in these Hill briefings."


In addition, also dated 9 July 2019, John Greenewald submitted another FOIA request, which requested "Copy of records, electronic or otherwise all emails to/from/cc'd/bcc'd CAPT CHINFO Gregory Hicks and Politico reporter Bryan Bender."

On 20 August 2019 the Department of Navy's Office of the Chief of Naval Operations responded. In part this read:

"The CHINFO Office has identified nine records totaling 15 pages that are responsive to your request..."

Greenewald released the partially redacted 15 pages of records. They indicate discussions between Bender and Hicks, with a date range 19 February 2019 and 23 April 2019. In these emails, Bender mentions his knowledge of "a directive/instruction establishing a process by which pilots and other personnel can report sightings of unexplained craft. .." and "...more recent reports of so-called "unexplained aerial phenomena" from the Theodore Roosevelt battle group during a cruise in 2015-2016, as well as more recent reports of highly advanced craft near Pax River."

Hick's official response came dated 23 April 2019:

"Bryan - here is our official response. Let me know if there is something else you'd like to explore on this, although folks around here will not go much further.

"There have been a number of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years. For safety and security reasons, the Navy and the USAF takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report. As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected intrusions can be made to the congnizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft.

In response to requests for information from Cogressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence Officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety."


US researcher Christian Lambright submitted an FOIA request to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) on 28 October 2019 and asked for:

"...all releasable portions of records and reports related to investigations of the detection of and encounter(s) with Anomalous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) by personnel involved with the Nimitz Carrier strike group (CSG) operating off the western coast of the United States during the period of approximately 10-16 November 2004."

Part of the response, dated 9 December 2019, from ONI, was as follows:

"ONI has searched our records for responsive documents. We have discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET. A review of these materials indicates that are currently approriate Marked and Clasified TOP SECRET under Executive order 13526, and the Original Classification Authority has determned that the release of these materials would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States...For this reason, the materials are exempt from release under the (b) (1) Exemption for Classified Matters of National Defense. As a result these records may not be released and are being witheld.

We have also determined that ONI possesses a video classified SECRET that ONI is not the original Classification for. ONI has forwarded your request to Naval Air Systems Command to make a determination on releasability."

I checked with Christian Lambright, and as at 23 March 2020 he was still awaiting a response from Naval Air Systems Command.

Three denials

In a The Black Vault post dated 29 January 2020, John Greenewald reported on three more FOIA requests:

1. On 26 April 2019 DON-NAVY-2019-006271 asked the USN for the Navy UAP reporting guidelines. The request was denied on 7 January 2020.

2. On 29 April 2019 a request was made for "all briefing  materials, which would include but not limited to, all written material, reports, documents, transcripts, minutes, briefng documents, list(s) of attendeees at the briefing(s) etc." The request was denied, on the grounds that all responsive material was classified.

3. A request dated 9 July 2019 for a "background paper" mentioned in the June 2019 release of internal Naval emails. This was also denied.

FOIA DON-NAVY-2020-003648

On 9 January 2020, I submitted an FOIA request to ONI asking for "all emails sent To/From (or cc'd or bcc'd) ONI senior military adviser John F Stratton SES USN NIMITZ OPINTELCEN DC (USA) between the dates of 16 December 2017 and the date of this request 9 January 2020, which include the keyword "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon;" "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena;" or the initials "UAP."

I received an interim response dated 7 February 2020 from ONI which advised that "Our review located over 1,500 responsive documents/pages."

ONI are now in the act of processing these documents to determine what may be releasable to me. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"The end of the line"

We are all ageing, and time's arrow only points one way. However, for some of us who have researched UAP for years, the time is getting closer to think about "the end of the line" - death.

An increasing number of long-term researchers are reaching their 70's and 80's. What can they do to best preserve their files, accumulated over many years?

In the USA, the collections of many deceased researchers have found their way to Barry Greenwood of Boston. For a long time, Barry has toiled away converting paper documents into the digital realm, making them available to multiple individuals, and archives like the AFU, throughout the world. Thus, what was the collection of a single individual, becomes available for anyone to research.

Other researchers have packed up documents, whether their own,  or that of colleagues; and sent them off to the special collection area of a university; e.g. the James McDonald collection at the University of Arizona. Part of Jacques Vallee's collection has already gone to Rice University.

Yet others, like Michael Swords, have scanned their collection and made copies available on USB memory sticks to individuals all over the planet. On a personal level, over the last few years I have scanned most of my Australian material, and like Swords, have copied it to numerous international researchers.

What about online material? What do your family do with it, after you pass away, leaving perhaps a vast website of quite original material and research? Do you simply hope that others have already downloaded the contents of the entire site? It might be wiser to leave instructions in your will as to what you would like to have your family do with this material.

What of blogs? Many individuals have written hundreds of thousands of words on their blog, often providing much data and analysis unique to that blog. Consider an addition to your will which sets out what you would like to happen, following your death. Again, on a personal level I was pleased to be approached by the PANDORA project of the National Library of Australia. They asked if they could upload the ongoing content of my blog to their website, which would preserve it, even if Blogspot goes out of existence. If you are a blogger, do you make a PDF version of each blog post and save it somewhere?

So, if you are a researcher of senior years, why not take a few minutes now to think about this topic? Perhaps draft an action plan; but do not forget to actually start acting upon it. Scanning original material a bit at a time and distributing it around, will only take a few hours of your time.

Once you have put something in place to preserve your material, perhaps original investigation notes, and unpublished analyses of some famous cases, etc, comes a peace of mind that you are prepared. Too often in the past, I have heard that a researcher has passed away and then that their family have simply ordered a rubbish skip and sent material which took a life time to collect, off to the rubbish tip. Don't let this happen to you

Monday, March 9, 2020

"What can I do, to make a contribution to UFOlogy?"

I am often approached by individuals who have freshly entered the field of UFOlogy, who ask me, "What can I do, to make a contribution?"

My initial response is to suggest that they spend a few weeks simply browsing the Internet, using a variety of keywords I supply them with. In this way they will discover for themselves, the vastness of the volume of material which is currently online. They will of course, come across, the bizzare, and the incredible, but also websites which provide good, hard, factual data. Hopefully, this immersion will sort out those who are simply interested in being entertained. Their interest will not last.

For those who are left, I then suggest to them a list of interesting books worth tracking down and reading; and some websites to visit.This is intended to ground them in the long history of the subject, as well as introduce them to some of the key researchers of both the past, and the present.

It is at this point that I will recommend that they look to see if there is any particular subset of the UFO phenomenon, in which they are specifically interested, based on their skillset and their life experience, e.g.

* The effects of the phenomenon on humans

* Historical records of the 18th and 19th century

* Observations of UFOs over military bases

* IFOs versus UFOs.

If they do decide to tackle a specific subset of the phenomenon, then I will spend time with them discussing this area; and perhaps put them in touch with a researcher I know, who specializes in that area. At this point, I know that they are serious about studying and contributing to the subject.

I would then spend more time assisting them to study their subject area. I suggest that when they are ready, that they should consider researching further into that specific area, then write articles for an online magazine; start a speciality website devoted to that topic, or start a specialized blog.

I will make a comparison here, which is that of someone undertaking a PhD. They are expected to research a very specific and small part of current human knowledge, in their chosen field; write up a book length treatment of it; including making an original contribution to that topic, which adds to, and extends the body of knowledge.

It is in this way that they may contribute something new; perhaps a better analysis of a famous sighting; or an insight into something which has eluded the rest of us.

How long might it take, to get to this stage from their original fresh interest in the topic? I have seen some people do it in six months; while others took a year or even two.

For those of us who have been in this field for many years, in my opinion, it is imperative that we spend a little of our time cultivating newcomers in this way. Personally, I have taken the time to do so, with a small number of younger individuals, scattered all over the world. A word of warning; the ratio of those who ultimately become serious researchers, to those who fall by the wayside, is quite high. However, I feel that this ratio should not stop us. The field needs more high quality researchers and analysts.

Why not consider mentoring someone?

Project Galileo

Project Galileo Or to give it its full name, "The Galileo project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial...