Inside the Pentagon at the Foreign Technology Desk

...the pentagon never sleeps.

And neither did I in those first few weeks at the R&D Foreign Technology desk as I racked my brain to come up with a strategy I could recommend to my boss. Amidst the constant twenty four hour motion of an office building where someone is always working, I spent more time at my desk than I did at home. Evenings, weekends, early mornings before the sunrise set the windows across the river in Washington an orange blaze, you could find me staring at the four drawer file cabinet against my corner wall. I’d fiddle with the combination lock, sometimes so absorbed in coming up with a strategy for these strange artifacts that I’d forget the sequence of numbers and have to wait until my brain reset itself.


And always, just outside my office was the pent up urgency of crisis, the cocked trigger of a military machine always poised to attack anywhere, anytime, at the sound of a voice on the other end of a scrambled phone behind the soft colored walls of an inner office along the miles of corridors on the inner or outer ring.

You think of the Pentagon as something of an amorphous entity with a single mind set and a single purpose. It’s probably the same way most people see the structure of the American military: one army, one goal, everybody marches together. But that’s almost totally false. The American military - and its home office, the Pentagon is just like any other big business with hundreds of different bureaus, many in direct and explicit competition with each other for the same resources and with different agendas and tactical goals. The separate military branches have different goals when it comes to how America should be defended and wars fought, and it’s not uncommon for differences to emerge even within the same branch of the service.

I was plunged right into this in my first weeks back in D.C. Debates were still going on from World War II, sixteen years before, and all of this formed the backdrop of Roswell. There was a huge wrangling within the navy between the aircraft carrier advocates from World War II and the submariners under Adm. Hyman Rickover, who saw the big flat tops as herds of elephants, slow and vulnerable. Subs, on the other hand, running almost forever on nuclear fuel, could slip deep beneath the sea, lay a thousand or so miles off enemy territory, and blast away at his most vulnerable targets with multiple warhead ICBMs. No way our enemies would escape destruction as long as we had our submarine fleet.


So who needs another aircraft carrier with its screen of destroyers and other escorts when just one sub can deliver a knockout punch anywhere, anytime, without enemy orbiting intel satellites snapping pictures of its every move? Look what our subs did to the Japanese in the Pacific; look what the German U-boats did to us in the Atlantic. But you couldn’t convince the navy brass of all that in the 1960s.

Like the navy, the air force had different advocates for different goals, and so did the army. And when there are competing agendas and strategies articulated by some of the best and brightest people ever to graduate from universities, war colleges, and the ranks of officers, you have hard nosed people playing high stakes games against one other for the big prizes: the lion’s share of the military budget. And, at the very center of it all, the place where the dollars get spent, are the weapons development people who work for their respective branches of the military.

And that’s right where I was in the early days of 1961 shortly after John F. Kennedy came to town to begin his new administration. I had only just returned to Washington from the front lines of a war that nobody thought of as a real war except for us, the guys who were there. It was easier during a real war, like Korea. Your objective is to push the other guy back as far as you can, kill as many of his people as you can, and force him to surrender. You have a very pragmatic strategy: You try it and if it works you keep on doing it until it stops working.


But on the front lines in Germany, where the battles were only fought with electron beams, threats, and feints, you had to assess how many soldiers might be killed or how many planes you could bring down if the shooting were to start for real. For Americans this was the Cold War, the combined military machines of two massive superpowers each capable of obliterating each other the moment either one perceived a material weakness in the other’s ability to retaliate.

So you had a chess game played and replayed every day around the world in scores of different war rooms where different scenarios were formulated to see who would win. It was all a game of numbers and strategies with different armed services around the world winning and losing battles on computers - very elegant and precise. But what very few people outside of government knew was that the Cold War was really a Hot War, fought with real bullets and real casualties, only no one could step forward to admit it because the front lines were within the very government capitals of the countries that were fighting it. I saw this with my own eyes right here in Washington, where the war had been going on since 1947.

So with the sides drawn and tensions between the various bureaus and services within the Pentagon, it didn’t take me long in those first few weeks to learn the politics of my new job. With the field reports, scientific analyses, medical autopsies, and technological debris from the Roswell crash I had under lock and key, my first rule was to be as circumspect as possible, draw no attention to myself. I’d learned this skill when I served on MacArthur’s staff in Korea ten years earlier: I had to be the little man who wasn’t there. If people don’t think you’re there, they talk. That’s when you learn things.

And within those first few weeks I saw and learned a lot about how the politics of the Roswell discovery had matured over the fourteen years since the crash and since the intense discussions at the White House after Eisenhower became president. Each of the different branches of the military had been protecting its own cache of Roswell - related files and had been actively seeking to gather as much new Roswell material as possible. Certainly all the services had their own reports from examiners at Walter Reed and Bethesda concerning the nature of the alien physiology.


Mine were in my nut file along with the drawings. It was pretty clear, also, from the way the navy and air force were formulating their respective plans for advanced military technology hardware, that many of the same pieces of technology in my files were probably shared by the other services. But nobody was bragging because everybody wanted to know what the other guy had. But since, officially, Roswell had never happened in the first place, there was no technology to develop.

On the other hand, the curiosity among weapons and intelligence people within the services was rabid. Nobody wanted to come in second place in the silent, unacknowledged alien technology development race going on at the Pentagon as each service quietly pursued its version of a secret Roswell weapon. I didn’t know what the air force or navy had or what they might have been developing from their respective files on Roswell, but I assumed each service had something and was trying to find out what I had.


That would have been a good intelligence procedure. If you were in the know about what was retrieved from Roswell, you kept your ears open for snippets of information about what was being developed by another branch of the military, what was going before the budget committees for funding, or what defense contractors were developing a specific technology for the services. If you weren’t in the Roswell loop, but were too curious for your own good, you could be spun around by the swirling rumor mill that the Roswell race had kicked up among competing weapons development people in the services and wind up chasing nothing more than dust devils that vanished down the halls as soon as you turned the corner on them.

There were real stories, however, that wouldn’t go away no matter how many times somebody official stepped up to say the story was false. For example, I picked up the rumors pretty quickly concerning the UFO the air force was supposed to be keeping at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the research they were conducting on the spacecraft’s technology, especially its electromagnetic wave propulsion system. There were also rumors circling around the air force about the early harvesting of Roswell technology in the design of the allowing bombers, but I didn’t know how much stock to put in them.


The army had been developing an all-wing design since right after World War I, and within a year after the Roswell crash Jack Northrop’s company began test flights of their YB49 flying wing recon/bomber models. The YB49’s quadruple vertical tail fins were so uncannily reminiscent of the head on Roswell craft sketches in our files that it was hard not to make a connection between the spacecraft and the bomber. But the flying wing’s development took place over ten years before I got to the Foreign Technology desk, so I had no direct evidence relating the bomber to the spacecraft.

General Trudeau was right, though, when he said that people at the Pentagon were watching Army R&D because they thought we were onto something. People wanted to know what Foreign Technology was working on, especially the more exotic things in our portfolio just to make sure, the memos read, that we weren’t duplicating budgetary resources by spending twice or three times for the same thing. There was a lot of talk and pressure from the Joint Chiefs of Staff about technology sharing and joint weapons development, but my boss wanted us to keep what we had to ourselves, especially what he jokingly kept calling “the alien harvest. “

As if the eyes of the other military services weren’t enough, we also had to contend with the analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency. Under the guise of coordination and cooperation, the CIA was amalgamating as much power as it could. Information is power, and the more the CIA tried to learn about the army weapons development program, the more nervous it made all of us at the center of R&D.

Acquaintances of mine in the agency had dropped hints, shortly after I took over the Foreign Technology desk, that if I needed any intelligence about what other countries were developing, they could help me out. But one hand washes the other, and they dropped hints that if I had any clues about where any stray pieces of “the cargo, “ or “the package” as the Roswell artifacts were commonly referred to within the military, might be found, they would surely appreciate it if I let them know. After the third time my CIA contacts bumped into me and whispered this proposal for exchanges of information into my ear, I told my boss that our friends might be anxious about what we had.

“You really put me on the hot seat, General, “ I said to Trudeau over one of our morning briefings at the end of my first month on the job. I was still working on the strategy for the nut file and, thankfully, my boss hadn’t pressured me yet to come up with recommendations for the plan. But it was coming. “How does the CIA know what we have?”
“They’re guessing, I suppose, “ he said. “And figuring it out by the process of elimination. Look, everybody suspects what the air force has. “

Trudeau was right. In the rumor bank from which everybody in the Pentagon made deposits and withdrawals, the air force was sitting on the Holy Grail - a spaceship itself and maybe even a live extraterrestrial. Nobody knew for sure. We knew that after it became a separate branch of the military in 1948, the air force kept some of the Roswell artifacts at Wright Field outside of Dayton, Ohio, because that’s where “the cargo” was shipped, stopping off in Fort Riley along the way. But the air force was primarily interested in how things fly, so whatever R&D they worked on was focused on how their planes could evade radar and out fly the Soviets no matter where we got the technology from.

“And, “ he continued, “I’m sure the agency fellows would love to get into the Naval Intelligence files on Roswell if they’ve not done so already. “

With its advanced submarine technology and missile launching nuclear subs, the navy was struggling with its own problem in figuring out what to do about UUOs or USOs - Unidentified Submerged Objects, as they came to be called. It was a worry in naval circles, particularly as war planners advanced strategies for protracted submarine warfare in the event of a first strike. Whatever was flying circles around our jets since the 1950s, evading radar at our top secret missile bases like Red Canyon, which I saw with my own eyes, could plunge right into the ocean, navigate down there just as easy as you please, and surface halfway around the world without so much as leaving an underwater signature we could pick up.


Were these USOs building bases at the bottom of oceanic basins beyond the dive capacity of our best submarines, even the Los Angeles-class jobbies that were only on the drawing boards? That’s what the chief of Naval Operations had to find out, so the navy was occupied with fighting its own war with extraterrestrial craft in the air and under the sea.

That left the army.

“But they don’t know for sure what we have, Phil, “ Trudeau continued. He’d been talking the whole time. “And they’re busting a gut to find out. “
“So we have to keep on doing what we do without letting them know what we have, General, “ I said. “And that’s what I’m working on. “

And I was. Even though I wasn’t sure how we’d do it, I knew the business of R&D couldn’t change just because we had Roswell crash artifacts in our possession.

However we were going to camouflage our development of the Roswell technology, it had to be within the existing way we did business so no one would recognize any difference. We operated on a normal defense development projects budget of well into the billions in 1960, most of it allocated to the analysis of new weapons systems. Just within our own bureau we had contracts with the nation’s biggest defense companies with whom we maintained almost daily communication. A lot of the research we conducted was in the improvement of existing weapons based on the intelligence we received about what our enemies were pointing at us: faster tanks, heavier artillery, improved helicopters, better tasting MREs.

At the Foreign Technologies desk, we kept an eye on what other countries were doing, ally or adversary, and how we could adapt it to our use. The French, the Italians, the West Germans, all of them had their own weapons systems and streams of development that seemed exotic by our standards yet had certain advantages. The Russians had gotten ahead of us in liquid rocket propulsion systems and were using simpler, more efficient designs.


My job was to evaluate the potential of the foreign technology and implement whatever we could. I’d get photos, designs, and specs of foreign weapons systems, like the French helicopter technology, for example, and bring it to American defense companies like Bell, Sikorsky, or Hughes to see whether we could develop aspects of it for our own use. And it was the perfect cover for protecting the Roswell technology, but we still had to figure out what we wanted to do with it. It couldn’t simply stay in file cabinets or on shelves forever.

What we had retrieved from the Roswell crash and had managed to hold on to was probably the most closely guarded secret the army had. Yet it was nothing more than an orphan. Up until 1961, the army had come up with no plan to use the technology without revealing its nature or its source and in so doing blow the cover on the single biggest secret the government was keeping. There was no one bureau within the army charged with managing Roswell and other aspects of UFO encounters, as there was in the air force, and therefore nobody was keeping any public records of how the army got its hands on its Roswell technology in the first place and, consequently, no oversight mechanism.


Everything up until 1961 was catch-as-catch-can, but now it had to change. General Trudeau was looking for the grand end game development scheme. It began with researching the history of how the whole file - the field reports, autopsy information, descriptions of the items found in the wreckage, and the bits and pieces of Roswell technology themselves - came into the possession of Army R&D.

Luckily enough for me, the whole Roswell story was still unknown outside the highest military circles in 1961. Retired major Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer at the 509th who had been at the crash site in July 1947 and who had given the initial reports of a spacecraft, would not yet tell his story in public for at least another ten years. Everyone else connected to the incident was either dead or sworn to silence.

The air force, which moved quickly to take over management of the Roswell affair and ongoing UFO contacts and sightings, still kept everything they learned highly classified under the Air Force Intelligence Command and waged a push and pull war with the CIA for information about sightings and ongoing contacts with anything extraterrestrial. These really weren’t my concerns yet, but they would be.

My research was not concerned with the crash at Roswell itself, nor at Corona or at San Agustin - if those crashes did, in fact, occur in early July 1947 - but on the day after Roswell, the day Bill Blanchard from the 509th crated up the alien debris and shipped it to Fort Bliss, where Gen. Roger Ramey’s staff determined its final disposition and the official government history of the event began to unfold.

In the early hours after the cargo arrived in Texas, there was so much confusion about what was found and what wasn’t found that army officers, who were in charge of the entire retrieval operation, quickly scraped together both a cover story and a plan to silence all the military and civilian witnesses to the recovery. The cover story was easy. General Ramey ordered Maj. Jesse Marcel to recant his “flying saucer” story and pose for a news photo with debris from a weather balloon, which he described as the wreckage the retrieval team recovered from outside Roswell. Marcel followed orders and the flying saucer officially became a weather balloon.

The silencing of military witnesses was also accomplished easily enough through top-down orders from General Ramey to everyone at the 509th and at Fort Bliss to deny that they were a part of any operation to recover anything other than a balloon. Once the material left Ramey’s command and arrived at Lt. Gen. Nathan P.Twining’s Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, all General Ramey had to do was keep denying what he was already denying and it was no longer his responsibility. Now it belonged to General Twining, from whose desk a whole new era of army involvement with the Roswell material began.

General Ramey treated the incident as a threat to national security and deployed whatever forces he could to bring the material back for evaluation and to suppress any rumors that might light a brushfire of panic. Therefore, Ramey used the counter intelligence personnel already posted to the 509th and ordered them deployed into the civilian community as well as the military to use any means necessary to suppress the story of the crash and retrieval. No news should be allowed to get out, no speculation was to be tolerated, and the story already circulating about a crashed flying saucer had to be quashed.
By the next morning, July 8, the suppression of the crash story was in full operation.


The army had already issued a new cover story to the press by the time CIC officers had gotten to the witnesses and, using threats and outright promises of cash, forced them to recant their statements about what they saw. Rancher Mac Brazel, who first said he had been at the site during the recovery and had described the strange debris, disappeared for two days and then showed up in town driving a new pickup truck and denying he’d ever seen anything. CIC officers turned up at people’s houses and spoke quietly to parents about what their children had learned. Whatever people thought was happening, army personnel said, wasn’t, and it would have to stay that way.

“You didn’t see a thing, “ they ordered. “Nothing happened here. Let me hear you repeat that. “

The silencing worked so well that for the next thirty years the story seemed to have been swallowed up by the quiet emptiness of desert where all things are worn down to a fine grade of sameness. But belying the quiet that settled over Roswell, a thousand miles away, part of the U.S. military went on wartime alert as bits and pieces of the craft reached their destinations. One of those destinations, Lt. Gen. Nathan Twining’s desk at Wright Field, was the focal point from which the Roswell artifacts would reach the Foreign Technology desk at the Pentagon.

Among the first of the army’s top commands notified of the events unfolding in Roswell in early July would have had to have been Lieutenant General Twining’s Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, where the Roswell debris was shipped. Nathan Twining has become important to UFO researchers because of his association with a number of highly secret meetings at the Eisenhower White House having to do with the national security issues posed by the discovery of UFOs and his relationship to National Security Special Assistant Robert Cutler, who was the liaison between the NSC and President Eisenhower when I was on the NSC staff in the 1950s.


The silver-haired General Twining was the point man for initial research and dissemination of Roswell related materials and, partly because of the capability with which he administered the vital AMC at Wright, he became part of an ad hoc group of top military and civilian officials assembled by President Truman to advise him about the Roswell discovery and its national security implications.

General Twining had been scheduled to travel to the West Coast in early July 1947, but he canceled the trip, remaining in New Mexico at the army’s air base at Alamogordo until at least July 10. Alamogordo was important not just because it was the nation’s nuclear weapons test site in the 1940s and 1950s but because it was also a field office of the AMC itself, where rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and others were primarily based. Close by was the White Sands guided missile base, where some of our military’s most advanced tracking and embryonic targeting radars were deployed. These were sensitive installations, especially during the UFO activity that week, and it made perfect sense that immediately after the recovery of the UFO the army general whose responsibility it would have been to manage the retrieval was almost directly on-site conferring with his top scientists.

Although I never saw the actual memos from President Truman to General Twining regarding his trip to New Mexico, I had heard stories about secret orders that Truman had issued to General Twining directing him to New Mexico to investigate the reports of the crash and to report directly to the White House on what he’d found. I believe that it was General Twining’s initial report to the President that confirmed that the army had retrieved something from the desert and might have suggested the need for the formation of an advisory group to develop policy about whatever was discovered. And, remember, in those first forty-eight hours, nobody really knew what this was.

By the time the Roswell debris had been shipped out of Fort Bliss and had arrived at Wright Field, General Twining had flown back from New Mexico to Wright to oversee the analysis and evaluation of the Roswell treasure trove. Twining moved quickly once back at his office. The alien bodies had to be autopsied in utmost secrecy and the spacecraft and its contents analyzed, cataloged, and prepared for dissemination to various facilities within the military. In as much as everything about the crash was given the highest security classification, stories had to be prepared for those with lower security classifications but whose contributions could be important to the creation of a credible cover story.

The official camouflage was almost as important to the military in1947 as it was in 1961 when I took over. It was important because as far as the army was concerned, 1947 was still wartime, a Cold War, perhaps, but war nevertheless, and stories about military hardware as valuable as the material retrieved from Roswell could not be disclosed for fear that the Soviets would exploit it. Thus, from day 1, the army treated its retrieval of the debris as if it were an operation conducted in a wartime theater under battle conditions. Roswell became military intelligence.

General Twining had seen the material for himself, and even before he returned to Wright Field, he’d conferred with the rocket scientists who were part of his brain trust at Alamogordo. Now, during the remainder of the summer months, he quietly compiled a report that he would deliver to President Truman and an ad hoc group of military, government, and civilian officials, who would ultimately become the chief policy makers for what would become an ongoing contact with extraterrestrials over the ensuing fifty years. And as stories of the Roswell crash and other UFO sightings around U.S. military bases began to filter in through the command chain of the armed services, General Twining also needed to establish a lower security channel along which he could exchange information with other commands that were not cleared all the way to the top.

General Twining still reported to higher ups who, though they may not have had the security clearance he had with regard to extraterrestrial contact, nevertheless were his commanding officers and routinely sought information from the AMC. Accordingly, General Twining needed to maintain a quasi cover-up even within the military.

The first of these reports was transmitted from General Twining to the commanding general of Army Air Forces in Washington, dated September 23, 1947. Written to the attention of Brig. Gen. George Schulgen, Twining’s memo addressed, in the most general of terms, the official Air Materiel Command’s intelligence regarding “flying discs. “ He drew a remarkable number of conclusions, most of which, I had to surmise when I was on Eisenhower’s National Security Council and then again when I got to the Pentagon, were based on Twining’s own first hand experience with the sighting reports from Roswell and other sighting reports as well as the materials themselves, which were in the military’s possession.

Flying saucers or UFOs are not illusions, Twining says, referring to the sighting of strange objects in the sky as “something real and not visionary or fictitious. “ Even though he cites the possibility that some of the sightings are only meteors or other natural occurrences, he says that the reports are based upon real sightings of actual objects” approximating the shape of a disc, of such appreciable size as to be as large as man made aircraft. “ Considering that this report was never intended for public scrutiny, especially in 1947, Twining marveled at the aircrafts’ operating characteristics and went on record, drawing major conclusions about the material he had and the reports he’d heard or read.


But, when he wrote that the extreme maneuverability of the aircraft and their “evasive” actions when sighted “or contacted” by friendly aircraft and radar led him to believe that they were either “manually, automatically, or remotely” flown, he not only suggested a guided flight but imparted a hostile intent to their evasive maneuvers to avoid contact. His characterization of the aircrafts’ behavior revealed, even weeks after the physical encounter, that those officers in the military who were now running the yet-to-be-codenamed extraterrestrial contact project already considered these objects and those entities who controlled them a military threat.

He described the aircraft as it had been reported in the sightings:

a “light reflective or metallic surface, “

“absence of a trail except in those few instances when the object was operating under high performance conditions, “

“circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on top, “

flights in formation consisting of from “three to nine objects, “

and no sound except for those instances when “a substantial rumbling roar was noted. “

The objects moved quickly for aircraft at that time, he noted to General Schulgen, at level flight speeds above three hundred knots.

Were the United States to build such an aircraft, especially one with a range of over seven thousand miles, the cost, commitment, administrative and development overhead, and drain on existing high technology projects required that the entire project should be independent or outside of the normal weapons development bureaucracy. In other words, as I interpreted the memo, Twining was suggesting to the commander of the Army Air Force that were the airforce, which would become a separate branch of the military by the following year, to attempt to exploit the technology that had quite literally dropped into its lap, it had to do so separately and independently from any normal weapons development program.


The descriptions of the super secret projects at Nellis Air Force Base or Area 51 in the Nevada desert seem to fit the profile of the kind of recommendation that General Twining was making, especially the employment of the “skunk works” group at Lockheed in the development of the Stealth fighter and B2 bomber.

Not revealing to the Army Air Forces command that Twining himself had been ordered to visit bases in New Mexico in the hours after the crash, the general advised his bosses that the military should consider whether the flying disks were of domestic origin, “the product of some high security project” already developed by the United States outside of normal channels, or developed by a foreign power that “has a form of propulsion possibly nuclear, which is outside of our domestic knowledge. “ At the same time, weaving a cover story that takes him out of the loop of reporting any of these flying disks as a first hand observer, Twining writes that there is a “lack of physical evidence in the shape of crash recovered exhibits which would undeniably prove the existence of these objects. “

But, even though General Twining has just written that there is no evidence, he nevertheless recommends to his superiors that:

Headquarters, Army Air Forces issue a directive assigning a priority, security classification and Code Name for a detailed study of this matter to include the preparation of complete sets of all available and pertinent data which will then be made available to the Army, Navy, Atomic Energy Commission, JRDB, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Group, NACA, and the RAND and NEPA projects for comments and recommendations, with a preliminary report to be forwarded within 15 days of receipt of the data and a detailed report thereafter every 30 days as the investigation develops. A complete interchange of data should be effected.

This was an important part of the memo, at least for me and my research into how the army got the Roswell rile, because it accounted for the army’s dissemination of the Roswell materials and accompanying reports within only a couple of months after the material’s arrival at Wright Field. When General Twining suggested to his commanding officers at AAF that all the military branches as well as existing government and civilian commissions needed to share this information, the dispersal of the materials was already under way. This is how the technology came into the possession of Army R&D.

Finally, the general promised the Army Air Forces command that the Air Materiel Command would continue to investigate the phenomenon within its own resources in order to define its nature further and it would route any more information it developed through channels. Three days after the memo, on September 26,1947, General Twining gave his report on the Roswell crash and its implications for the United States to President Truman and a short list of officials he convened to begin the management of this top-secret combination of inquiry, police development, and “ops.“ This working group, which included Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, Dr. Vannevar Bush, Secretary James Forrestal, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, Dr. Detlev Bronk, Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, Sidney W. Souers, Gordon Gray, Dr. Donald Menzel, Gen. Robert M. Montague, Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, and Gen. Nathan Twining himself, became the nucleus for an ongoing fifty-year operation that some people have called “Majestic-12. “

At the Eisenhower White House, it was simply referred to as “the group, “ and in the days after Roswell it went into operation just as smoothly as slipping your new 1949 Buick with its “Dynaflow” automatic transmission into drive and pulling away from the curb. In this way General Twining had carefully orchestrated a complete cover-up of what had happened at Roswell as well as a full scale, top-secret military R&D operation to identify the nature of the phenomenon and assess its military threat to the United States. It was as elegant as it was effective.

But the plan didn’t stop with the creation of the working group - in fact, the operation very quickly developed into something far more sophisticated because General Twining’s “flying discs” simply wouldn’t go away. As more information on sightings and encounters came rolling in through every imaginable channel, from police officers taking reports from frightened civilians to airline pilots tracking strange objects in the sky, the group realized that they needed policies on how to handle what was turning into a mass media phenomenon. They needed a mechanism for processing the thousands of flying saucer reports that could be anything from a real crash or close encounter to a couple of bohunks tossing a pie tin into the air and snapping its picture with their Aunt Harriet’s Kodak Brownie.


The group also had to assess the threat from the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain countries, assuming of course that flying saucers weren’t restricted to North America, and gather intelligence on what kinds of information our allies had on flying saucers as well. And it still had to process the Roswell technology and figure out how it could be used. So from the original group there developed a whole tree structure of loosely confederated committees and subgroups, sometimes complete organizations like the air force Project Blue Book, all kept separate by administrative firewalls so that there would be no information leakage, but all controlled from the top.

With the initial and ongoing stories safely covered up, the plans for the long term reverse engineering work on the Roswell technology could begin. But who would do it? Where would the material reside? And how could the camouflage of what the military was doing be maintained amidst the push for new weapons, competition with the Soviets, and the flying saucer mania that was sweeping the country in the late 1940s?


General Twining had a plan for that, too. Just a little over a year after the initial group meetings at the White House, Air Force Intelligence, now that the air force had become a separate service, issued a December 1948 report - 100-203-79 - called “Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the U.S.“ in which UFOs are never referred to as extraterrestrial objects but as elements of “foreign technology,“ which is actually the subject of the report. The report, innocuous to most people because it doesn’t say that flying saucers came from outer space, is actually one of the first indications showing how the camouflage plan was supposed to work over the ensuing years.

The writers of the report had located within the existing military administrative structure the precise place where all research and development into the flying disk phenomenon could be pursued not only under a veil of secrecy but in the very place were no one could be expected to look: the Foreign Technology desk. Here, the materials could be deposited for safe keeping within the military while army and air force brass decided what our existing industrial and research technology allowed them to do. There could he as weapons failed, secret experiments without fear of exposure, and, most importantly, an ongoing discussion of how the United States could develop this treasure trove of engineering information, all within the very structure where it was supposed to take place. Just don’t call it extraterrestrial; call it “foreign technology” and throw it into the hopper with the rest of the mundane stuff the foreign technology officers were supposed to do.

And that’s how, twelve years later, the Roswell technology turned up in an old combination locked military file cabinet carted into my new Pentagon office by two of the biggest enlisted men I’d ever seen.

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