DoD refuses to release key documents on UFO office; cites national security interest
Want to know more about the UFO office within the Pentagon? Well, when it comes to the last rendition of it anyway, the Department of Defense (DoD) does not want you to know much.
In fact, they just denied key pages in understanding the office known as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, or AOIMSG, along with redacting numerous other pages hiding crucial details of the effort.
Although the office has since been restructured and renamed, in November of 2021, the Deputy Secretary of Defense announced the creation of the AOIMSG.
Establishment Memo of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG)
“The presence of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) in Special Use Airspace (SUA), designated in accordance with 14 CFR Part 73, represents a potential safety of flight risk to aircrews and raises potential national security concerns,” said the November 23, 2021 memorandum by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks. “Accordingly, I direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (USD(I&S) to establish the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) to synchronize efforts across the Department and with other Federal departments and agencies to detect, identify and attribute objects of interests in SUA, and to assess, and as appropriate, mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security.”
With this memo, the AOIMSG was established, along with the Airborne Object Identification and Management Executive Council (AOIMEXEC) to provide oversight and direction.
On the same day this memo was released to the public, The Black Vault filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case 22-F-0224 which asked for the release of each document related to the AOIMSG and AOIMEXEC up until that point, which would include everything created during the establishment of both groups.
Specifically, it asked for, “all records pertaining to the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) and the Airborne Object Identification and Management Executive Council (AOIMEXEC).” The request asked to, “…include, but not be limited to, letters, memos, emails sent to/from related parties (I agree that the FOIA officer use their best discretion on who’s emails to search), mission statements, PowerPoint presentations, draft documents about the creation of these groups, etc.,” as responsive to the case.
The result, according to the DoD, was that 50 pages were discovered as responsive to the above, however, 23 pages were, “…currently and properly classified in the interest of national security,” and were denied in full. The FOIA release letter, signed by the Chief FOIA Officer of the DoD, detailed why that portion of the information was withheld in full:
“This classified information is exempted pursuant to Executive Order 13526, as amended, applying Sections
1.4 (a), military plans, weapons, systems, or operations; 1.4 (c), intelligence activities (including
special activities), intelligence sources or methods; and 1.4 (g), vulnerabilities or capabilities of
systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national
The remaining 27 pages were released, however most of the substance within those records was heavily redacted.
The main core of what was released consisted of emails about the creation of the AOIMSG, referred to within as the “AOIMSG Package for USD(I&S).” Most of the names were redacted for privacy reasons, though a few were not, one of which appears to be the first time one DoD official was connected to the UAP conversation.
Mark Elliott, Director for Technical Collection
Mark R. Elliot, who serves as the Director for Technical Collection within the Office of the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, was revealed in the list of names and was not redacted in the release.
According to Elliot’s LinkedIn profile, he is an, “Innovative senior executive with extensive experience managing complex and dynamic intelligence and cyber security organizations.”
Another name revealed has been released before, though he was easily overlooked in that past release.
Matthew Cummings, who according to his biography posted at the Potomac Officer’s Club, serves as the Senior Advisor for MASINT, GEOINT, and Special Programs at Office of the Secretary of Defense U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Cummings’ name first appeared in a FOIA case filed by The Black Vault, as released by the DoD, Office of the Inspector General, in August of 2021.
In FOIA cases DODOIG-2021-000805 and DODOIG-2021-000811, Cummings’ name appears on one of the email distribution lists, but was not identified further and it was impossible to determine if he had a role in any UAP related program, or was just on the distribution list of certain communications.
His name has come up again, but this time with a bit more detail.
Cummings’ full name and title appear in this new FOIA release in one of the classification blocks, which usually has the names within the “classified by” section redacted.
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