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Here Come The Men In Black - Why Is AFOSI Investigating Navy UFOs?




After not being heard from since September, just as the UFO community and journalists were getting ready to dispatch Liam Neeson, The Pentagon suddenly reemerged recently as quite the Chatty Cathy.


Of course, when it comes to what The Pentagon had to say, some UFO enthusiasts likely wished they'd stayed in hiding. Nevertheless, after rediscovering their voice, The Pentagon shared with Coyote's Tail something new and very intriguing.


For the first time in two years, when discussing the now widely famous Navy encounters with UFOs, the DoD mentioned one of the most ominous government agencies in all of UFO lore (cue the dramatic music)...



In May, The Pentagon told The New York Post that the infamous Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) "did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena." Many UFO believers rejoiced with this morsel of confirmation that, post the 1969 closure of Project Blue Book, indeed, the U.S. government actually does give a shit about UFOs.


However, unfortunately, December isn't the season for giving at the Department of Defense. At least when it comes to UFOs.



Last week - exactly forty-years to the month after it closing down Project Blue Book - The Pentagon ruffled the UFO community's hair, nervously twirled it's car keys, muttering something about "it's not your fault," and wistfully looked back before walking out the front door.


As the UFO faithful confusingly stared out the window, The Pentagon lit a cigarette, pulled out the driveway, and ostensibly looked back in the rearview mirror as it tried to drive the hell away from the UFO subject as fast as possible.


In separate statements to researcher Roger Glassel and John Greenewald of The Black Vault, the DoD’s new UFO point-person, Susan Gough said, “Neither AATIP nor AAWSAP were UAP related.”


Not yet done, just weeks after I mentioned in Popular Mechanics that a longer, more spectacular video, may exist from the 2004 Nimitz UFO event; on their way out of UFO town, The Pentagon dropped off another Dear John letter to the UFO community. This time, in a statement to researcher D. Dean Johnson, Gough said, “The U.S. Navy retains custody of the source videos. The source videos are the same in length and quality as copies that have been observed in circulation.”


While the UFO community shared vague social media posts quoting Taylor Swift, implying they were "stronger without them," and changed it’s Facebook relationship status with The Pentagon to “It’s complicated,” - unbeknownst to most, the DoD had also shared some intriguing comments with Coyote's Tail.




Last week, I asked spokesperson Senior Strategic Planner for the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs Office, Susan Gough, why all UAP/UFO inquiries were now being forwarded directly to her. Gough told me, “Incursions into military air space or training ranges by UAPs are problematic from both a safety and security concern -- for all of DOD, not any one military service. The investigations into these incidents also involve multiple U.S. government agencies. To ensure consistency in responses to queries submitted to DoD, individual military services and other DoD agencies, OSD(Public Affairs) took the lead in responding to all media queries sent to DoD regarding UAPs.”


There are two salient points being made by The Pentagon's UFO-point person here.


Although, every major branch of government, with the exception of the Navy, seem to have had a very nasty case of UFO-laryngitis, Gough acknowledged that UAP encounters "are problematic... for all of [the] DoD, [and] not any one military service." Something that's been stated by innumerable varied military witnesses over the years and largely assumed as self-evident fact. However, for the first time since the start of the 2017 UFO renaissance, the DoD reinforced that unknown aerial objects don't just have a particular fondness for picking on the U.S. Navy.


Worth nothing, when it comes to investigations of UAP incidents, Gough said inquiries "involve multiple U.S. government agencies." To be clear here, the Senior spokesperson for the Secretary of Defense is a well trained wordsmith. Gough once wrote The Evolution of Strategic Influence while attending the U.S. Army War College.


By using the phrase "multiple U.S. government agencies," and not specifically "the DoD," Gough admits investigations into UAP can and do involve agencies outside the DoD, such as, The Department of Justice (FBI), Homeland Security, or the Department of Energy. Though curiously, if you ask them, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) do not seem to concern themselves with unidentified aircraft encounters.


The other significant point conveyed by the Pentagon's official response to me was, after decades of demonstrating itself to be utterly incapable of being concise with the public’s curiosity of UFOs, when the subject reemerged as a hot topic of discussion, the DoD opted for euphemism less traveled - "If it ain't fixed, keep breaking it," and they decided to make everything worse.




Peering past the skillful language of a trained scribe, what Ms. Gough really meant in her previous response to me was, “The Department of Defense - the largest single employer in the world; made up of three major departments, 98 different individual agencies, and somewhere in the ballpark of 3.4 million military, reservist, and civilian employees (of which half-a-million are stationed overseas) - has decided every and all UFO question should come to me and me only - FML, and I hate you all.”


With a topic that even "believers" can’t even agree on - just imagine trying to be the lone person tasked with unearthing and sharing information on UFOs for the U.S. government?!?





Going back over 2000 years, an unwritten code of conduct in warfare is commanding officers are expected to receive and send back enemy emissaries or diplomatic envoys unharmed. Even in warfare, an event forged on violence in which the metric of victory is measured by lives taken and lives kept, the idea of executing your enemy’s messengers is considered morally repugnant.


Hence, the metaphoric phrase describing the time-honored emotional response to unwanted news… “Don’t shoot the messenger.”


While many last week were lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks ready to persecute Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough, it’s very important to remember here… Gough is simply a messenger. Government Public Affairs officers, are merely a conduit between the media/public and an almost innumerable number of faceless bureaucrats within machine.


Equally as important here; navigating the layers of bureaucracy within government is very much like an onion. Anyone brave enough to try, is going to face multiple convoluted furrows, and almost assuredly, eye’s ablaze with rage, will be left weeping uncontrollably before they ever make it to the core.

While the public is frustrated at the fact that the DoD can’t seem to decide if AAWSAP is AATIP, and if anyone at The Pentagon, much less AATIP, ever investigated UFOs; lost is the fact, that the very messengers conveying this varied mixed bag of responses, may also be just as confused and frustrated by what their being told. Of course they're not going to convey that.


The public affairs officer's job is to market the government favorably to the general public. With this carefully crafted lens that the DoD wants to be viewed, it's important to remember, it isn't always the most accurate portrayal of reality.




Just recently, The Washington Post printed an expose on the "Afghanistan Papers," showing there were times when the public was being intentionally misled into believing the war in Afghanistan was going better than it actually was. The Post's report draws on nostalgia and cozies up to the "Pentagon Papers" or "The Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force," which demonstrated President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration, "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress" about the United States political and military involvement during the Vietnam War.


For those who read the article I wrote over the summer, -Here Is How The Pentagon Comes Up With Code Words And Secret Project Nicknames - you may recall me mentioning phrases like "Enduring Freedom," "Iraqi Freedom," "Inherent Resolve," are not merely nicknames. These phrases are meant to inspire and express the overarching intent of military involvement and influence public support. "Once you hear about Inherent Resolve, well, you just know it’s something great, something Americans must support wholeheartedly, " said professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, Robin T. Lakoff.


So the DoD has a public-facing perception it wants to maintain and it carefully crafts its words to try and market it. Now, this equally doesn't mean the confusing statements on the part of the government are inherently part of some massive organized UFO cover-up.


"The 'experts' in their stories of saucer lore, have said that these brush-offs of the UFO sightings were intentional smoke screens to cover the facts by adding confusion. This is not true; it was merely a lack of coordination. But had the Air Force tried to throw up a screen of confusion, they couldn't have done a better job."

- Former Director of Project Blue Book, Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt (USAF), 1956 -

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects


The bottom line is it would reckless to ever consider any official government statement alone as being absolute objective evidence. There's simply no precedent for that, regardless of the topic, and it's equally not something the government itself would ever do.


- "Excuse me, Foreign Antagonist, are you developing nuclear weapons?" - U.S. Government


- "Nuclear weapons? Nooooooo! That's silly! Our official statement is we're simply building large grain silos in effort to help feed the world's hungry." - Foreign Antagonist


- " Ok, well thanks! That clears everything up and sets the record straight! God bless you for your selfless altruism." - U.S. Government


"If you followed flying saucers closely the question mark was big, if you just noted the UFO story titles in the papers it was smaller, but it was there and it was growing. Probably none of the people, military or civilian, who had made the public statements were at all qualified to do so but they had done it, their comments had been printed, and their command had been read. Their comments formed the question mark."

- Former Director of Project Blue Book, Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt (USAF), 1956 -

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects



Air Force Office of Special Investigations Agents/ Source: AFOSI webpage/DVIDS



When it comes to those Pentagon messages…


As I bantered back and forth with spokesperson Gough last week, something in one of her answers suddenly caused the record player to come to a screeching halt and everyone in the salon abruptly stopped what they were doing.


“The two 2015 videos appeared in the New York Times in December 2017. At that time, AFOSI conducted an investigation, focusing on the classification of the information in the video. The investigation determined the videos were not classified. That in itself (being unclassified) does not automatically approve material for public release.”


Kind of like those 3D pictures that were popular in the late 1990s, it’s easy to overlook the interesting detail in Gough’s statement. In case you missed it -


AFOSI conducted an investigation.”



By federal statute, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations provides independent criminal investigative, counterintelligence and protective service operations worldwide and outside of the traditional military chain of command.





According to their official website, some of AFOSI's activities and investigations include, "a wide variety of serious offenses - espionage, terrorism, crimes against property, violence against people, larceny, computer hacking, acquisition fraud, drug use and distribution, financial misdeeds, military desertion, corruption of the contracting process, and any other illegal activity that undermines the mission of the U.S. Air Force or the Department of Defense."


Headquartered in Quantico, Virginia, AFOSI encompasses eight field investigative regions, seven of which are aligned with Air Force major commands, including - Air Force Material Command, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Education and Training Command, US Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air Force Space Command, and Air Force Global Strike Command. AFOSI Region 7 - Office of the Secretary of the Air Force - is not aligned with a major command and its mission is to provide counterintelligence and security-program management for special access programs (SAPs) under the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.


Additionally, AFOSI has several specialized investigative, training, and support units - Office of Special Projects, Office of Procurement Fraud, Force Support Squadron and U.S. Air Force Special Investigations Academy.


Those versed in UFO lore will recognize, AFOSI also has a very nefarious history when it comes to the UFO subject.



Arguably, AFOSI's most infamous involvement with the UFO subject comes from the accounts of former AFOSI Agent Rick Doty. According to Doty, at the behest of government, he successfully seeded a cornucopia of misinformation on UFOs during the 1980s.


From the contentious MJ-12 documents, secret underground alien bases, cattle mutilations, crash retrieval of alien spacecraft, top-secret cooperative agreements and exchange programs with extraterrestrials and the U.S. government, an alien race called “Ebens” (aka The Greys), alien abductions, to the recruitment of once prominent UFO researchers as clandestine assets of disinformation -virtually every popular UFO legend can be connected to Rick Doty.


With an impressive list of UFO myths under his belt, Doty is most notably known for his proclaimed involvement in helping push a successful electronics entrepreneur and UFO enthusiast Paul Bennewitz into a state of delusional mania, which in 1988, would escalate to Bennewitz’s family checking him into a mental health facility.




Of course, Doty's accounts aren't the only connections between AFOSI and UFOs.


A CIA study detailed how, in the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA and AFOSI promoted UFOs in effort to cover-up the then-classified U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance planes. According to the study which was publicly released in 1997, " Over half of all U.F.O. reports from the late 1950's through the 1960's were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights.'' Regarding AFOSI's role, ''This led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project," the study said.


Many in the UFO community were angered by the CIA's assertion that America's premier spy agency, in collusion with AFOSI, had been responsible for a bulk of UFO reports. Both in the realization the U.S. government systematically lied to the American public, and with the idea that UFO reports in general could be largely dismissed as government propaganda.


Inarguably, the government admitting to intentionally lying to the public is, at a minimum concerning, at most, illegal. However, most serious UFO researchers have always acknowledged that only approximately 10% of reported sightings are truly unexplainable, with the majority being misidentifications or hoaxes. In their own study, the CIA and AFOSI claim to only be responsible for "over half of all UFO reports," leaving roughly 40-50% they acknowledge weren't them. Therefore, the acknowledged claims of UFO disinformation shouldn't be considered as conclusively explaining the entirety of the UFO phenomena.


When it comes to offering an explanation for their actions, much like when you were a teenager and you asked your parents if they ever tried drugs, the CIA simply says, "Hey, it was the 60s and 70s! It was a different time."





Gough's statement that AFOSI investigated the classification of the 2015 UAP videos is very intriguing.


It was Navy personnel who had these UFO encounters in 2004 and 2015. It was Navy equipment that captured the three widely popular UFO videos released in the last two years by To The Stars Academy. In the DD-1910 form that Lue Elizondo filled out when he applied for the video’s release, very explicitly it says the Navy is the original classification authority (OCA).


Even in another statement to me last week, Gough said, “The U.S. Navy retains custody of the source videos for the 2004 and 2015 sightings.” Equally, when speaking specifically about the 2007 leak of the “Flir1” aka “F4” video, Gough said, “In 2009, the online post of the video came to the attention of Navy officials who, in consultation with Navy law enforcement personnel, decided not to pursue the matter.” Not to mention it’s been the Navy who was reported as having changed their guidelines for reporting of UFO encounters this past spring.


Essentially, in the last two years, the Navy has come up so much in the discussion of these UFO events, for me, the lines of reality started blur and I began to believe somehow maybe I’d joined the Navy.


Which of course, begs the question, why is The Pentagon saying the Air Force Office of Special Investigations looked into the classification release of the two 2015 Navy videos - “Gimbal” and “Go Fast?” Significant point to reiterate again - it’s never been in dispute, the Navy was the original classification authority.



Some will likely say the AFOSI being involved likely suggests the objects shown in the videos are classified Air Force technology. Given that AFOSI working out of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force is tasked with security-program management for Air Force special access programs (SAPs), this is a valid hypothesis for what spurned AFOSI's involvement when the UFO videos made front page news in 2017.


Concern the objects in the videos were classified Air Force technology, may indeed be the real reason AFOSI looked into the videos. However, if true, based on the outcome of their investigation, this would actually point the needle towards the conclusion these were not classified Air Force technology.

"The investigation determined the videos were not classified," - OUSD Public Affairs spokesperson, Susan Gough.

At the confluence of logic and reason, this is were I've had a hard time swallowing the "classified U.S. aerospace technology" as being the explanation for the described UAP encounters by the Navy. If indeed these were classified U.S. technology, was the same government that successfully kept secret the Manhattan Project, the development of the U-2, SR-71, F-117, B-2, or RQ-4 (to name just a few) suddenly drunk AF behind the wheel of secrecy?



Northrup Grumman Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) test flight in 2012. Source: US Army Space & Missile Def Command/ DVIDS



Recently, one of the last bastions of objective truth and intellectual discourse, The Daily Star, offered a groundbreaking report suggesting the Navy UFO events involve Top-Secret U.S. aerospace craft and all of this silly UFO talk is merely an organized effort to cover up "their own state-of-the-art technology." Supporting this hypothesis, The Daily Star citied aerospace and defense technology experts Blake and Brent Cousins, who run the highly-respected advanced aviation YouTube channel Third Phase of the Moon. Previously, The Daily Star has brought Pulitzer worthy reports such as, Vampires Are Real And Walk Among Us, or Time Traveller 'Impregnated By Alien From Year 3,500'. (In case you're "that" guy or girl at the party, the sarcasm is strong with this paragraph).


Until something is proven by a preponderance of evidence as being fact, anything's on the table, including that technically the Navy's UAP encounters could involve some type of classified U.S. aerospace technology.


However, for those who read my article in Popular Mechanics- The Witnesses - you may recall, when I asked about the Navy UFO encounters, defense journalist Nick Cook said:

“In the balance of probabilities, I don’t think it’s ‘ours’.”

Admittedly, Cook doesn’t carry the lofty credentials of having worked at say a Third Phase of the Moon and instead was merely once the lowly aviation editor for "Bible of the defense industry," Jane’s Defense Weekly. Nevertheless, let’s expand on what tips the scale of probabilities to cause Cook to say what he did.

  1. If you want to keep something secret, you typically don't test it in front of 6,000 Navy sailors and potential eyewitnesses.

  2. After 15-years of your secret technology being virtually unknown, you then don't typically blast it all over the front page of The New York Times and make images of it readily available to anyone all over the world on YouTube.

  3. If it's "your's", you typically wouldn't organize a wide-spread disinformation campaign for the very secret technology no one was previously talking about, including requiring multiple different U.S. government agencies and individuals to publicly lie to the tax paying, and voting constituent, general public. Including, as we now know, AFOSI saying it's not classified technology.

When it comes to the critical notion these events involve a series of mass misidentifications and misperceptions, in order for these skeptical theories to fit, one must isolate events, and fail to examine the entire incidents in totality.


Of course, none of this says the objects encountered by the U.S. Navy, are extraterrestrial. Instead, it merely suggests in the balance of logic and reason of available information, these events at the present, involve exactly what the overwhelming consensus has been from the beginning- something anomalous and unknown.


Screenshot of The Nimitz Encounters by Dave Beaty/ used by permission from Dave Beaty


At the end of the day, hanging off the cliff of limited information and ambiguity, those well versed in AFOSI’s nefarious history of being the real “Men in Black” will shake their head and say, “Here we go.”


Conversely, others will say, “That settles it! It’s a classified Air Force program not alien visitors! Knew it the whole time.” Meanwhile, after everything I said earlier about government spokespersons, the more mundane explanation could simply be, Gough, or someone providing info to Gough, could have made a mistake.


Of course, The Pentagon could easily clear this all up, but sadly it appears they’ve had a relapse of UFO-laryngitis, and aren't able to answer any UFO questions right now. Lets everyone keep them in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.





Honestly, The Pentagon’s sudden mention of AFOSI in the mix with the Navy’s UFOs, is exactly what fascinates me with UFO subject. It doesn’t matter what it is. Nothing is simple, and the mysteries appear to be limitless.


Indeed the truth may be out there, but even then, there will very likely still be more questions.

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Tim McMillan is a retired police Lieutenant, investigator and intelligence analyst and freelance writer. Tim currently contributes for Popular Mechanics, Vice, and The War Zone.