Recent US Department of Defence Manual Contains Instructions Regarding The Photographing of UFOs By Armed Forces Personnel
The US Department of Defence (DoD), and components of the Armed Forces, routinely produce “doctrinal” material to aid in the efficient and lawful running of the US military. Such doctrine falls into several categories, including, but not limited to, “Regulations”, “Instructions”, “Manuals”, “Directives” and “Guidelines”. Historically, the US military handled the reporting and investigation of “UFOs”, or “unidentified flying objects”, through such published doctrine, much of which has been declassified and released to the public. When the United States Air Force (USAF) terminated its long running UFO study program, Project Blue Book, on the 17th of December, 1969, it was commonly accepted that no government agency, including within the military, would further accept or investigate UFO reports. Thus, one would expect that no formal publications dealing with UFOs would be promulgated beyond 1970. We know, of course, that this is not true. Numerous examples of classified military doctrine that deal with UFOs have come to light, as I have highlighted in previous blog posts.
On the 10th of April, 2001, the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs (ASD-PA) promulgated a DoD Instruction titled “DoD Instruction 5040.6, Life-Cycle Management of DoD Visual Information (VI)”. Amended on the 21st of October, 2002, and totalling twenty-seven pages, it details the “life-cycle” of DoD “visual information” (VI), which includes “…still photographs, digital still images, motion pictures, analog and digital video recordings…”. The Instruction references, and works in conjunction with, a DoD Manual titled “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1, Decision Logic Table Instructions For Recording And Handling Visual Information Material” (DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1). This Manual was also published by ASD-PA on the 21st of October, 2002. One page two, the “Forward” section reads, in part:
“This Manual is issued under the authority of DoD Instruction 5040.6, ‘Life Cycle Management of DoD Visual Information,’ April 10, 2001 (reference (a)). It contains guidelines for both the recording of visual information (VI) in the field by camera operators and the accessioning of such VI as VI records into a records center, such as the Defense Visual Information Center (DVIC).
The Manual applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Agencies and all other organisational entities within the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as ‘the DoD Components’).”
Put simply, “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1, Decision Logic Table Instructions For Recording And Handling Visual Information Material” describes how photographs and moving images, which have been obtained by members of the US Armed Forces, must be captured, transmitted and stored. A “Decision Logic Table” (DLT) is laid out throughout the Manual, and cover myriad events and scenarios which may present to military personnel, and other members of the DoD. Within the DLT, individual tables categorize specific scenes or situations, and provide disposition instructions, including priority and importance, for imagery contained in for each category. Dozens of topics, from “POST-BATTLE ACTIVITIES IMAGERY” to “NATURAL TERRAIN AND SITE IMAGERY”, are covered.
Curiously, one of the topics listed is UFO’s and other unidentifiable aerial phenomena.
Section 21 of Chapter 5, on Page 53, of the Manual is titled “UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT (UFO) AND OTHER AERIAL PHENOMENA IMAGERY”. Beneath this bold heading, it is stated:
“The following table concerns imagery that records UFOs and other aerial phenomena not obviously identifiable as conventional aircraft or missiles. The table also lists the priority assigned to each category of imagery and provides relevant handling instructions.”
The table is titled “UFO and Other Aerial Phenomena Imagery” and contains just two columns. The left-hand side column is headed “Subject Description”, and the right-hand column is headed “Instructions”. Listed, in the left-hand column are two categories of aerial oddities that can be photographed or filmed. They are:
“Aerial flying objects not obviously identifiable as conventional aircraft”,
“Aerial phenomena (including moving lights and similar phenomena)”.
The right-hand column, which contains the “priority” of importance for such imagery, as well as handling instructions, states:
“NORMAL. Provide copies or dubs as needed to local and major commands. Handle camera-recorded imagery according to Appendix 2.”
The relevant page is imaged below.
Thus it is established, with great clarity, that the DoD require UFO imagery from their personnel. The fact that not one, but two, sub-categories of “Unidentified Flying Objects” are listed is significant. These sub-categories, namely “Aerial flying objects not obviously identifiable as conventional aircraft” and “Aerial phenomena (including moving lights and similar phenomena)”, cover virtually every example of unusual aerial activity ever reported. For decades, UFO encounters have been officially reported by military personnel. As we know, such reports, which could include photographic imagery, have been submitted to desks assigned to handling and investigating such intelligence. It seems little has changed. For example, “Air Force Regulation 200-2, Intelligence, Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting” (AFR-200-2), promulgated by the Secretary of the USAF on the 26th of August, 1953, defines a UFO as:
“…any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic chrematistics, or usual features does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positivity identified as a familiar object.”
AFR 200-2 also asked for, wherever applicable, photographic evidence:
“…All original film, including, whenever possible, both prints and negatives, will be titled or otherwise properly identified as to place, time, and date of the incident to which they pertain…”
Another example of USAF doctrine which clearly defines UFO’s is “Air Force Regulation 80-17, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO)” (AFR 80-17). Promulgated on the 19th of September 1966 by the Secretary of the USAF, “AFR 80-17” placed UFO reporting under the Directorate of Science and Technology’s (AFRST) Science Division (AFRSTA). AFRST was within the USAF’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development. On the 8th of November, 1966, “AFR 80-17” was amended as “AFR 80-17A”, and reflected the fact that the University of Colorado’s “UFO Study” was underway. This was the final example of UFO-specific reporting doctrine that the USAF generally acknowledged. On Page 1 of “AFR 80-17A”, in “Section A – General Provisions”, an “Explanation of Terms” is given:
“1. Explanation of Terms. To insure proper and uniform usage of terms in UFO investigations, reports and analyses, an explanation of common terms follows:
a. Unidentified Flying Objects. Any aerial phenomenon or object which is unknown or appears out of the ordinary to the observer.
b. Familiar or Known Objects/Phenomena. Aircraft, aircraft lights, astronomical bodies (meteors, planets, stars, comets, sun, moon), balloons, birds, fireworks, missiles, rockets, satellites, weather phenomena (clouds, contrails, dust devils), and other natural phenomena.”
Indeed, the definitions offered in “AFR 80-17A” are very clear. Of course, reporting requirements for UFO’s should have ended in December, 1969, when the Secretary of the USAF, Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr, famously announced that “…the continuation of Project Blue Book cannot be justified… …on the grounds of national security…” and that “...no UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security.”.
Decades later, however, we see “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1, Decision Logic Table Instructions For Recording And Handling Visual Information Material” asking for photographic and moving imagery of UFO’s. There is virtually no difference between the UFO definitions of the 1950’s and 1960’s with those laid out in 2002. Again, “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1” lists “aerial flying objects not obviously identifiable as conventional aircraft” and “aerial phenomena (including moving lights and similar phenomena)” as being unique. Photographs or footage of such aerial activity is to be provided “as needed to local and major commands”. And all this comes under the section title of “UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT (UFO) AND OTHER AERIAL PHENOMENA IMAGERY”.
It could easily be argued that the term “Unidentified Flying Object”, or its oft used acronym “UFO”, is being utilised to merely cover any unexpected aerial activity which would be of obvious interest to the military. Such activity would presumably include cruise missiles, high performance unmanned aerial vehicles and re-entering space debris. This, however, is not the point. Firstly, considering the US governments stance on the UFO controversy the US military shouldn’t even be using the term “UFO”. Secondly, one would presume that is visual imagery of a “UFO” was taken by Armed Forces personnel, there would be an accompanying report, or at least some paperwork regarding the time and date of the event, exact location, and a general overview of the objects motions. This, by definition, would be a “UFO report”. The US military do not, apparently, handle UFO reports anymore. Likewise, the US military are at the forefront of national security, yet are being instructed to image and distribute imagery of UFOs. UFO’s and national security are not supposed to be an issue. Thirdly, it is notable that “Aerial phenomena (including moving lights and similar phenomena)” are listed alongside more traditional UFO activity. The inclusion of this sub-category most certainly moves well away from unexpected missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, balloons, etc. There is no question whatsoever that the DoD is covering all bases, and asking their forces to image what some call “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP). Finally, it may be important to note that the UFO-imagery table in “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1” is presented in Chapter 5. The title of Chapter 5 is “IMAGERY RECORDING ROUTINE PEACETIME EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES UNRELATED TO EITHER WAR, OVERSEAS COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT, OR MAJOR PEACETIME OPERATIONS”. This would strongly indicate that UFO’s and unidentifiable phenomena are expected in locations where combat aircraft, missiles, drones and the “fog of war” are non-existent.
As stated, the UFO table in “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1” requests that UFO imagery be sent “…as needed to local and major commands…”. Also stated is that such imagery be handled as per Appendix 2, which can be found on Page 55. Appendix 2, carrying the title “MEDIA HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS FOR OTHER SUBJECTS”, is presented as a table containing sub-categories of visual imagery media types with instructions on how to handle each. Original video recordings, for example, are to be sent “…to the CAP as soon as reasonably possible…”.
Photographic “still” film images are to be processed by first making “…digital copies of selected camera original negatives and color transparencies…” and then forwarding these copies “…to the CAP immediately for possible accessioning.” Originals are “…sent to to the DVIC unless applicable Service or DoD Agency instructions direct that they be sent to the CAP.”. “CAP” stands for “Component Accessioning Point”, which is defined as “A central or designated point in the DoD Components for the receipt, screening, evaluation, and selection of imagery for accessioning into the central DoD VI records center.”. “DVIC” stands for “Defence Visual Information Center” and is “…responsible for the receipt, storage, preservation, reference service, life-cycle management, reproduction, and disposition of VI records…”. In October, 2011, the functions of the DVIC were absorbed into the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center (DIMOC).
As we know, “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1” was promulgated by the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs (ASD-PA) in October, 2002. ASD-PA is subordinate to the Office of the Secretary of Defence and the Joint Staff (OSD/JS). On the 7th of June, 2016, I wrote to OSD/JS to discover precisely which “local and major commands” would be the recipients of UFO imagery. In my letter, I included ample referencing of “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1”, so there was no chance of a fob off. On the 5th of July, 2016, Stephanie L. Carr, the Chief of the Office of Freedom of Information for the OSD/JS, replied to my enquiry stating that:
“The military departments or defense agencies that are applicable to your enquiry would be the military services and force commands. We have enclosed listings that identify the FOIA contacts at these organizations for your use.”
Attached to Stephanie L. Carr’s letter were the contact details of the FOIA desks of the US Military Services and Force Commands. The Military Services are merely the four branches of the US Armed Forces. These are simply the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Force Commands, also known as Unified Combatant Commands (UCC), are joint military commands comprising of various military departments, major commands and component commands, and are organised on either a geographic or functional basis. Listed as being applicable to my enquiry were eight of nine of the UCC’s. These were Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Northern Command, Pacific Command, Special Operations Command, Southern Command and Strategic Command. Not listed was Transport Command. Thus far, I have not submitted FOI requests to any of the above-mentioned Commands, nor DIMOC. Copies of any possible UFO or unusual phenomena imagery, or the accompanying paperwork, would be either still held by these entities, or, will have been recently destroyed, as per various records destruction schedules. Whatever the situation, there is a chance that focused FOI request action will yield results.
In sum, “DoD Manual 5040.6-M-1, Decision Logic Table Instructions For Recording And Handling Visual Information Material” makes detailed and specific allowances for the imaging of “Aerial flying objects not obviously identifiable as conventional aircraft” and “Aerial phenomena”, and, even comes with the designation of “Unidentified Flying Objects”. This is yet another example of US military doctrine that specifically treats “UFOs” as distinct from other aerial platforms, despite the assurances from the US military that UFOs are not within their jurisdiction. Simply, the term “UFO” shouldn’t even be utilised.