One of the national security subjects I have tackled in a number of books is that of threat, indications and warnings.  It was big part of Surprise Attack and, perhaps not surprisingly, of Unidentified.

Recently the subject of warnings intelligence surfaced in news that the Defense Intelligence Agency had established a project dealing with UFOs, beginning in 2007 and extending over a number of years. That news is especially interesting because it reveals a good deal about matters ranging from Congressional budgeting, to the internal operations of agencies such as DIA and on to the issues of warnings and anomalous flying objects. I will be covering the story in a new edition of Unidentified but the following is a very brief synopsis of how the DIA came to be involved in a UFO project – a subject to which, as an organization, it ultimately showed no long term commitment.

For context, it also needs to be stated that both foreign military and terror intelligence collections and threat and warnings advisories are a core task of the DIA. The Agency operates regional centers and a 24/7 threat office in support of American combat commands worldwide. DIA’s mission includes not only real time intelligence and warnings support for American combat commands but its Directorate of Science and Technology has the responsibility for technical collection and analysis intended to identify new missile and space threats – and profile both vulnerabilities and defensive measures associated with foreign technology.

The DIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology oversees the work of the Defense Collections Group, the Collections Operations Center, the Science and Technology Analysis Group, the National Signatures Program and the Overhead Non-Imaging Infrared Group. Identifying new aerospace devices, especially potential weapons – and profiling their technical “signatures” and performance capabilities is a core task.

Given DIA’s mission, coming across the existence of a program titled “Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Program (AAWSA)” existing within the Directorate of Science and Technology and serving as an adjunct to the Warnings Office is no great surprise. Certainly DIA personnel routinely conduct work focused on just such emerging weapons systems, but as an intelligence agency DIA is notoriously hesitant to identify its organizational structure beyond a relatively high level.

Although the details of the story are still a subject of great debate – and argument – within the UFO research community, the basics appear to be as follows. According to several of the individuals involved, including Harry Reid himself, the DIA effort may have come into existence relatively recently, as of 2007, created under a special earmarked budget appropriation initiated by Reid and his associates. We do know that the project involved two major areas of work, one was the commissioning of some 38 technical studies related to theoretical propulsion systems, guidance and stealth – areas in which breakthroughs might be incorporated into advanced air and space vehicles. The justification for the studies was the possibility that such technologies might actually involve in certain military observations, incidents which could reveal highly advanced technology being deployed by potential adversaries, including the Russians and Chinese.

The majority of these studies appear to have been unclassified, we even have samples of some of them:

However, there was another aspect of the program, one much more oriented to extremely anomalous and “exotic” incidents.  That aspect was driven by the interest of Reid, certain of his Congressional associates and influential private figures – all of whom felt there was something very real in the overall UFO phenomenon. In addressing that aspect of the problem, a contract of some ten million dollars was let to Bigelow aerospace, which in turn set up its own facilities and hired a staff of investigators and analysts.  The exact nature of their work, their studies and the distribution of their work products within DIA is unknown as of this time but it did occur for several years, up to 2012 when the special funding faded away.

Based on press reports and statements from Luis Elizondo (its former head) it appears that beginning in 2012 and into 2017, work transitioned into a project known as the “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Project” (AATIP) – focused largely on the examination of actual military encounters with highly anomalous aerial objects. Elizondo himself describes being frustrated by the lack of access to classified incidents and information, relying instead on a network of interested individuals and groups in various agencies and services.

Ultimately, with limited ongoing interest inside DIA and a failure to receive access to classified materials, Elizondo himself left the project. Comments by Elizondo also suggest that there was a generally negative response from the various elements of the overall intelligence community – consistent with the fact that the community itself did not originate the project nor establish a priority for the subject within its own threat categories. The extent to which either the Bigelow investigations and reports or Elizondo’s AATIP efforts made it into the DIA system, or within the DIA Science and Technology Directorate, particularly to its Analysis staff, not a matter of public record at this time.


4 responses »

  1. Andrew Gross says:

    So where are the ET’s in each of the two reports? Thanks in advance.

    • larryjoe2 says:

      Not sure what led you to ask about Extra Terrestrials in the report samples? The reports themselves pretty clearly deal with theoretical physics, and in some ways are quite similar to studies NASA has previously done on exotic propulsion concepts. As far as I can tell, including the remarks by some of the individuals who have written them, these reports covered areas that could have spelled out technology signatures which would be used to identify devices utilizing the physics being discussed.

      DIA is not DARPA so all one might expect is that the work would be used to develop “signatures” and cataloging and even filtering data for such signatures would be within their mission – if DIA at the level of the Science and Technology Directorate had really considered it a priority, which seems doubtful. There is nothing yet available on how the studies were actually used internally by DIA, although obviously they were published in unclassified form.

      As to the AATIP aspect of what was going on, examining the technical data from anomalous object encounters – such as in the Princeton incidents – is another story entirely. What is obvious in the interviews of the military involved is those incidents is that they felt the capabilities of the objects recorded on multiple radars and on the video and FLIR camera records were totally anomalous – which does not mean ET, it means that at the time nobody could come up with an explanation for what was being engaged, certainly not the pilots or the carrier strike group personnel. Since we lack any details of what if any analysis was performed of that technical data all we know is that it was retrieved. As I said, whether it actually made it into a formal DIA analysis beyond AATIP is questionable.

      On the third element, the contract work by Bigelow, you would have to pursue that separately and of course that is where those involved were really looking for ET. Since I have no detail on their work and its unclear if we will ever get any of it that’s beyond me. For those who have read Unidentified, you will know that the more “exotic” aspects of the subject are not where I focus my attention, so I’ll leave it at that.

      • larryjoe2 says:

        Normally I don’t reply to myself but some good researchers are digging up more data on these DIA programs and it gives some good insight into how things work in the intelligence community. The link at the bottom of this reply will take you to the contract tender offer which resulted in the technical studies linked in my original post.

        Note that the studies were intended to examine potential physics/technology developments out to 2050 – something just short of 50 years in the future at the time. That is an eternity given today’s technology advances, especially in unmanned systems. The fascinating question here is how the project could generate a tender which would be so consistent with its daily tasks and separately move on to funding some of the things that occurred at Bigelow Aerospace. Studies of advanced technologies and even the analysis of anomalous military air and space incidents would be well within DIA’s mission areas.

        Regardless of the Bigelow aspect of things, I’m personally interested in seeing if the advanced tech and anomalous incident studies had any traction within the DIA much less the broader intelligence community. Based on my own historical studies I’m pretty much betting it didn’t…partially because turf battles have always been intense and partially because post-911 the intelligence community has grown so vast and so compartmentalized that I’m not sure that it can handle strategic issues. It does quite well on tactical and real time command level support but I suspect the degree to which we have forces in constant combat and deployment work overwhelms the big picture efforts.

  2. Debra Conway JFK Lancer says:

    Posted. 🙂

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