Based on the provided affidavit, Arneson was assigned to the 28th Air Division then located at Malmstrom AFB in 1967. The 28th was part of the Air Defense Command, not the Strategic Air Command. Though there may have been some tasks which the 28th would have worked in concert with SAC, generally there would have been a well established line of demarcation between the two commands. It's within this organization confine that highlights some of Arneson's claims.
Per Arneson's affidavit, as a member of the 28th Air Division, and being the Top Secret Control Officer, he states that he was responsible for the dispatching of all of the nuclear launch authentication codes to the Minuteman missile crews. I found this to be an odd responsibility for a member of the Air Defense Command (ADC) handling and dispatching SAC launch authentication codes. To me, the idea that a "paranoid" command such as SAC allowing another command this type of access and distribution of it's launch material was unthinkable.
I opened an inquiry thread over at themissileforums.com site asking about any possible involvement of ADC's handling of SAC launch authenticators and all that responded gave the indication that this would have been impossible for a non-SAC command, even an air division, to have this responsibility even back in 1967. On a personal note, back in the early 1980s as a launch crew member, we had received launch authentication codes strictly form the wing's Emergency War Order and Planning Division, DO22. These documents were transported out to the LCC and locked in a safe and inventoried during each and every crew change over.
My thoughts on Arneson's claim is that he may have been mistaken as to who's launch authentication codes he was referring to as the ADC/NORAD flying unit at the Great Falls Airport (Montana Air National Guard) flew the F-102 in 1967 and was capable of carrying the nuclear tipped Genie air to air missile. Arneson may well have been responsible for issuing the authentication codes to the ADC air crews.
With the above said, the reader may be asking of the relevance concerning UFO activity. Perhaps nothing, yet its possible to correlate Arneson's claims of responsibility with the over all UFO story's aura of confusion and lacking of clarity of its witnesses. Let's look at other claims in Arneson's affidavit:
"On some date that I do not recall, a UFO-related message came through the communications center. While I recall neither the sender nor to whom it was directed, I do recall reading that a UFO was seen near some missile silos and that it had been hovering. The message stated that both the missile crew going on duty and the crew coming off duty saw the UFO just hovering in mid-air. It was described as a metallic, circular object and, from what I understand, the missiles were all shut down immediately thereafter. That is, they went dead. Someone, presumably aboard the UFO, turned those missiles off, so they could not be put in a mode for launching."
Arneson is in doubt of the date of either the alleged incident or the date of the message. Based on previous research, it would be reasonable to assume that he may well had seen a message describing alleged UFO activity since rumors of such had permeated both the missile wing and the surrounding Great Falls area. This would also correspond to the 341st Strategic Missile Wing's Unit History statement concerning UFO rumors as being present, but also disproven.
Did the message that Arneson read referred to Echo or Oscar? This is were Arneson's story may well fall apart. If the message referred to Echo, then the notion that both off going and on coming crews saw a UFO hovering in mid-air is seriously in error. Carlson/Figel made no assertions of such a sighting. Don Crawford, the on coming crew commander also made no statements to support this version of events. Simply no UFO was ever reported near or over Echo's launch control facility.
Could the message had been referring to Oscar Flight? Again, as was the case with Carlson and Figel, both Meiwald and Salas never stated that they themselves had seen a UFO over Oscar as this alleged report came from the FSC and/or a security response team which is solely dependent on who's version, Salas or Meiwald, is taken into consideration.
Arneson's affidavit further mentions his acquaintance with Robert Kaminsky while employed with Boeing. Supposedly Kaminsky had confided in Arneson about the Echo investigation and that no known technical reason could be found for the malfunctions and that there had been reports of UFOs near the missiles at the time of the failures.
To a certain extent, Kaminsky was correct as the initial Echo investigation had showed no known causation, but as the investigation dragged on for over a year eventually the EMP-like noise pulse was isolated as the cause for the failure. Interesting that since Arneson was employed by Boeing he would have had access to the Engineering Change Proposals submitted by Boeing and the results of the ECP installations at all of SAC's Minuteman launch facilities (this also included Vandenberg's training launch facilities). As far as Kaminsky's stating that there had been UFO reports, he is merely one of many who had heard of the various rumours that had swept through Malmstrom and central Montana. Like others, Kaminsky saw no UFOs himself, but only heard of them second and third hand.
What has been an area of curiosity concerning Echo and Oscar, is the lack of any data showing that NORAD/ADC radars from Malmstrom's SAGE facility had tracked any "unknown" targets over central Montana for both 16 and 24 March. Being assigned to the SAGE facility at Malmstrom, Arneson would have been in position to know if this had happened and if any subsequent launching of Montana Air Guard interceptors had occurred. Since Arneson never mentions this type of event/mission, then this lends credence that the UFO reports were merely rumors.
Did Arneson make this all up? Its entirely possible that the contents of the message was basically as Arneson stated. If the message was one of the first that was up-channeled to higher command, in this case Air Defense Command, then it reflects the initial confusion surrounding the magnitude of the Echo shutdowns followed by the disjointed statements concerning the error-proned mentioning of UFO sightings by the missile crews. It appears obvious to me that the source for the alleged message content was not "officially" from the SAC component at Malmstrom, but from various unidentified sources not familiar with the actual situation. (This is assuming that the Arneson message actually existed in the first place)
Updated June 10, 2013:
I've been researching the Minot October 1968 UFO incident and came across information that appears to clarify Col. Arneson's statements concerning his receipt of a message relating to "UFO(s) sighted around missile silos."
It is readily apparent that all UFO sightings/reports were sent to the affected region's ADC Air Division regardless of the command making the report. Since Minot AFB, ND was in the 28th Air Division's jurisdiction all of it's UFO reports were sent to Malmstrom (28th's location).
With this in mind, Col Arneson's recollection of a message listing a UFO(s) sighting would have been consistent with the protocols in place during his tenure at Malmstrom. Based on Arneson's responsibilities within the air division, he would have had access to these types of message traffic. The Minot message sent to Malmstrom (October time frame of 1968) was "Unclassified."
I'll post a copy of the Minot message with a future blog post on that specific incident once the article is completed.