8.2 COMETA Report: The French Report on UFOs and Defense
What follows is an English summary written by French UFO author Gildas Bourdais. The full text of the report in English is included in the Appendix in Volume II. The coverage of this major study on UFO issues was very poorly covered in the US press with a notable exception of Leslie Keanís article which appeared in the Boston Globe, a copy of which is included in Appendix I.
A short presentation by Gildas Bourdais
It must be stressed here that this is an independent report, by a private association called COMETA. It is summarized with the approval of the authors. To translate and publish the report itself, in part or in its integrality, permission should be asked by writing to the administrator of the association COMETA, Mr. Michel Algrin, 25, boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France.
On Friday 16 of July 1999 was published in France an outstanding document, called "UFOs and Defense. What must we be prepared for?" ("Les OVNI et la Défense. A quoi doit-on se preparer ?")
This ninety pages report is the result of an in depth study of UFOs, covering many aspects of the subject, especially questions of defense. The study was carried out during several years by an independent group of former "auditors" at the very serious Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, or IHEDN ("Institut des hautes Ètudes de défense nationale"), and of qualified experts from various fields. Before its public release, it has been sent to French President of the Republic Jacques Chirac, and to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
This Report is prefaced by General Bernard Norlain, of the Air Force, former Director of IHEDN, and it begins with a preamble by André Lebeau, former President of the National Center for Space Studies ("Centre national díÈtudes spatiales", CNES), the French equivalent of NASA. The group itself, collective author of the report, is an association of experts, many of whom are or have been auditors of IHEDN, and it is presided over by General Denis Letty, of the Air Force, former auditor (FA) of IHEDN. Its name "COMETA" stands for "Committee for in depth studies".
A non-exhaustive list of members is given at the beginning, and it is impressive enough. It includes: General Bruno Lemoine, of the Air Force (FA of IHEDN), Admiral Marc Merlo (FA of IHEDN). Michel Algrin, Doctor in Political Sciences, attorney at law (FA of IHEDN), General Pierre Bescond, engineer for armaments (FA of IHEDN), Denis Blancher, Chief National Police superintendent at the Ministry of the Interior, Christian Marchal, chief engineer of the national "corps des Mines", Research Director at the "National Office of Aeronautical Research" (ONERA), General Alain Orszag, Ph.D. in physics, engineer for armaments.
The committee also expresses its gratitude to outside contributors, among whom : Jean-Jacques Velasco, head of SEPRA at CNES, Franaois Louange, President of Fleximage, specialist of photo analysis, General Joseph Domange, of the Air Force, general delegate of the Association of auditors at IHEDN.
General Norlain tells in a short preface how this committee was created. General Letty came to see him in March 1995, when he was Director of IHEDN, to discuss his project of committee on UFOs. Norlain assured him of his interest and addressed him to the Association of Auditors (AA) of IHEDN, which in turn gave him its support. It is interesting to recall here that, twenty years ago, it was a report of that same Association which led to the creation of GEPAN, the first unit for UFO study, at CNES.
As a result, several members of the committee come from the Association of Auditors of IHEDN, joined by other experts. Most of them hold, or have held, important functions in defense, industry, teaching, research, or various central administrations. General Norlain expresses hope that this report will help develop new efforts nationally, and an indispensable international cooperation.
General Letty, as president of COMETA, points to the main theme of the report, which is that the accumulation of well documented observations compels us now to consider all hypotheses as to the origin of UFOs, especially extraterrestrial hypotheses.
The committee then presents the contents of the study:
In a first part, presentation of some remarkable cases, both French and foreign. In a second part, they describe the present organization of research in France and abroad, and studies made by scientists worldwide which may bring partial explanations, in accordance with known laws of physics. The main global explanations are then reviewed, from secret crafts to extraterrestrial manifestations. In a third part, will be examined measures to be taken regarding defense, from information of pilots, both civilian and military, to strategic, political and religious consequences, should the extraterrestrial hypothesis be confirmed.
Part I: "Facts and Testimonies"
Many of the cases selected are well known by most researchers, and need only to be mentioned here. They are:
Testimonies of French pilots. M. Giraud, pilot of MirageIV (1977); Colonel Bosc, fighter pilot (1976); Air France flight AF 3532 (Jan 1994).
Aeronautical cases worldwide. Lakenheath (1956); RB-47 (1957); Teheran (1976); Russia (1990); San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina, 1995).
Observations from the ground. Tananarive (1954); observation of a saucer near the ground by a French pilot, J. -P. Fartek (1979); observation at close range over a Russian missile site, by several witnesses (1989).
Close encounters in France. Valensole (Maurice Masse, 1965); Cussac, Cantal (1967); Trans-en-Provence (1981); Nancy (so-called case of the "Amaranth" 1982).
Counter-examples of elucidated phenomena (two cases).
Although the selection is limited, it seems to be sufficient to convince an uninformed but open-minded reader of the reality of UFOs.
Part II : "The Present State of Knowledge"
The second part, entitled "the present state of knowledge" ("Le point des connaissances"), begins with a survey of the organization of the official UFO research in France, from the first instructions given to the "gendarmerie" in 1974 for the redaction of reports, to the creation of GEPAN in 1977, its organization and its results: collection of more than 3,000 reports from the gendarmerie, cases studies, statistical analyses. It then surveys agreements passed by GEPAN and, later, SEPRA, with the air force and the army, the civilian aviation and other organs, such as civilian and military laboratories for the analysis of samples, and photographs.
Regarding the methods and results, we are reminded of some famous cases (Trans-en-Provence, líAmarante), and emphasis is made on the catalogues of cases, notably of pilots (Weinstein catalogue), and "radar/visual", world wide. A historical note appears here with a quotation of the famous letter of General Twining, of September 1947, asserting already to the reality of UFOs.
The following chapter, called "hypotheses and attempts at modeling" ("OVNI : hypotheses, essais de modélisation") discusses some models and hypotheses which are under study in several countries. Partial simulations have already been made for UFO propulsion, based on observations of aspects such as: speed, movements and accelerations, engine failure of nearby vehicles, paralysis of witnesses. One model is MHD propulsion, already tested successfully in water, and which might be achieved in the atmosphere with superconducting circuits, in a few decades. Other studies are briefly mentioned, regarding both atmospheric and space propulsion, such as particle beams, antigravity, reliance on planetary and stellar impulsion. The failure of land vehicle engines may be explained by microwave radiations. In fact, high power hyperfrequency generators are under study in France and other countries. One application is microwave weapons. Particle beams, for instance proton beams, which ionize the air and become therefore visible, might explain the observation of truncated luminous beams. Microwaves might explain body paralysis.
In the same chapter are next studied "global hypotheses". Hoaxes are rare and easily detected. Some non-scientific are put aside, such as conspiracies and manipulation by very secret, powerful groups, parapsychic phenomena, collective hallucinations. The hypothesis of secret weapons is also regarded as very improbable, the same as "intoxication" at the time of the cold war, or just natural phenomena. We are then left with various extraterrestrial hypotheses. One version has been developed in France by astronomers Jean-Claude Ribes and Guy Monnet, based on the concept of "space islands" of American physicist OíNeill, and it is compatible with present day physics.
The organization of UFO research in the United States, Great Britain and Russia is surveyed rapidly. In the United States, the media and the polls show a marked interest and concern of the public, but the official position, especially of the Air Force, is still one of denial, more precisely that there is no threat to national security. Actually, declassified documents, released under FOIA, show another story, one of surveillance of nuclear installations by UFOs, and the continued study of UFOs by the military and intelligence agencies.
The report stresses the importance, in the United States, of private, independent associations. It mentions the "Briefing Document. Best available evidence" sent in 1995 to a thousand personalities worldwide, and the Sturrock workshop in 1997, both sponsored by Laurance Rockefeller. The "Briefing Document" has obviously been welcomed by the authors of the COMETA report. The committee also notes the public emergence of alleged insiders such as Colonel Philip Corso, and considers that his testimony may be partly significant as to the real situation in that country, in spite of many critics.
The report describes briefly the situation in Great Britain, with a special mention for Nick Pope, and poses the question of the possible existence of secret studies pursued jointly with American services. It mentions as well research in Russia, and the release of some information, notably by the KGB in 1991.
Part III: UFOs and Defense
The third part, "UFOs and Defense" ("Les OVNI et la defense"), states that, if it is true that no hostile action has been proved yet, at least some actions of "intimidation" have been recorded in France (case of the Mirage IV for instance). Since the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs cannot be ruled out, it is therefore necessary to study the consequences of that hypothesis at the strategic level, but also political, religious and media/public information levels.
The first chapter of Part III is devoted to prospective strategies ("Prospectives strategiques") and it begins with fundamental questions: "What if extraterrestrials? What intentions and what strategy can we deduce from their behavior?"
Such questions open a more controversial part of the report. Possible motivations of extraterrestrial visitors are explored here, such as protection of planet Earth against the dangers of nuclear war, suggested for instance by repeated flying over nuclear missile sites.
The committee then ponders the possible repercussion on the behavior, official or not, of different states, and focuses on the possibility of secret, privileged contacts which might be "attributed to the United States". The attitude of the U.S. is seen as "most strange" since the 1947 wave and the Roswell event. Since that time, a policy of increasing secrecy seems to have been applied, which might be explained by the protection at all cost of military technological superiority to be acquired from the study of UFOs.
Next, the report tackles the question: "What measures must we take now?" At the least, whatever the nature of UFOs, they impose "critical vigilance", in particular regarding the risk of "destabilizing manipulations". A kind of "cosmic vigilance" should be applied by the elites, nationally and internationally, in order to prevent any shocking surprise, erroneous interpretation and hostile manipulation.
Nationally, COMETA urges the strengthening of SEPRA, and recommends the creation of a cell at the highest level of government, entrusted with the development of hypotheses, strategy, and preparation of cooperation agreements with European and other foreign countries. A further step would be that European states and the European Union undertake diplomatic action toward the Unites States within the framework of political and strategic alliances.
A key question of the report is "What situations must we be prepared for?" It mentions such situations as: extraterrestrial move for official contact; discovery of a UFO/alien base on the territory or in Europe; invasion (deemed improbable) and localized or massive attack; manipulation or deliberate disinformation aiming at destabilizing other states.
COMETA devotes special attention to "aeronautical implications," with detailed recommendations aimed at various personnel, such as air staffs, controllers, weathermen and engineers. It also makes recommendations at the scientific and technical levels, aimed at developing research, with potential benefits for defense and industry.
The report further explores the political and religious implications of UFOs, using as a model the perspective of our own exploration of space: how would we do it, how would we handle contacts with less advanced civilizations?
Such an approach is not new to the well-informed readers of the abundant ufological literature, but it has a special value here, being treated seriously at such a level. The media/publicity implications are not forgotten, with the problems of disinformation, fear of ridicule, and manipulation by certain groups.
In its conclusion, COMETA claims that the physical reality of UFOs, under control of intelligent beings, is "quasi certain". Only one hypothesis takes into account the available data: the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitors. This hypothesis is of course unproved, but has far-reaching consequences. The goals of these alleged visitors remain unknown but must be the subject of speculations and prospective scenarios.
In its final recommendations, it stresses again the need to:
1. Inform all decision-makers and persons in position of responsibility;
2. Reinforce means of investigation and study at SEPRA;
3. Have UFO detection taken into account by agencies engaged in of space surveillance;
4. Create a strategic cell at the highest state level;
5. Undertake diplomatic action toward the Unites States for cooperation on this "capital question";
6. Study measures which might be necessary in case of emergencies.
Finally, this document is accompanied by seven interesting annexes which are worth reading even by seasoned ufologists:
Radar detection in France
Observations by astronomers
Life in the Universe
Colonization of space
The Roswell case - The disinformation (an interesting text which will be criticized by some readers, and welcomed by others, including myself)
Antiquity of the UFO phenomenon. Elements for a chronology
Reflection on various psychological, sociological and political aspects of the UFO phenomenon.
The importance of this report should not be missed by all informed ufologists around the world, considering not only its contents but the personality of its authors, and in spite of critics which may be addressed to it. In fact, some sharp critics have been made soon after the release of the report, on the Internet, and in the French press with an article by sociologist Pierre Lagrange curiously denouncing an operation of disinformation by way of ridiculing the subject ("Libération of July 21, 1999). Letís hope that the present summary will help clarify the debate.
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9.0 APPENDIX AI.UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS RELATED TO UFOs
9.1 Summary Review of Government Documents
The documents included here in Appendix I are only those referenced in the text of this document and were selected to: 1) specifically support sightings reports or 2) support specific points in the discussion. Many important US Government UFO documents that we have collected (well over 1000 pages) are not in this briefing summary since including all such documents would have been impractical. Web sites such as that run by the Black Vault have available many thousands of pages of government documents relating to UFO issues (mostly obtained from the government through FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act). Although many of the documents may be difficult to read, the sharp-eyed reader will quickly realize the extent of the governmentís and the militaryís deep interest and involvement in UFO issues. Not only is their continued interest obvious, but also their continued desire to keep the information from the public through a combination of secrecy, and deliberate misinformation and disinformation (this process was discussed in the position paper entitled: "Unacknowledged").
It should be noted that for nearly every reported observation, there are a slew of pronouncements by "experts" and officials dismissing the observation. However, all these statements are basically invalidated by a single phenomenon: the continued action of our government to classify documents such as those in the appendices, as secret, and to maintain that secrecy up to and in some cases in the face of the unprecedented power of the Freedom of Information Act. If there were nothing to these sightings, there would be no need for secrecy!
An excellent example of government agency duplicity about their interest in UFOs is described by John Greenewald on the BlackVault web site in which he quotes the following Air Force standard position statement, quoted from a letter he received from the Air Force:
Regarding UFO/UAO phenomenon, we have no documentation, archived or otherwise, regarding this type phenomenon and have not documented this type of information or maintained a database on same since the official closing of "Project Blue Book" in 1969.
From the evidence gathered here we know that the Air Force did have interest in UFOs prior to the closing of "Project Blue Book" since Air Force Regulation AFR 200-2 (1954) describes in detail how to report Unidentified Flying Objects, including their description. Note that the position statement above implies there is no present interest in UFOs. However, the present Air Force Manual on Operational Reporting (AFMAN 10-206), dated March 7, 2000, describes CIRVIS (Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings) reporting procedures which in section 22.214.171.124 specify "Unidentified Flying Objects," which are listed separately from unidentified aircraft (section 126.96.36.199). These reports are to be submitted to the Commander in Chief at NORAD Headquarters.
Documents from the mid-1970s discussed in the section (6.7) on Air Command Base overflights show the intense interest at NORAD in the UFO phenomenon at that time, which appears to continue to this day.
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