Composition: Hunter French
The Pentagon announced on Friday that it had elevated the status of its UAP task force following pressure from Congress and the fact that multiple instances have been reported of unknown objects reportedly making incursions into military airspace.According to an emailed statement from Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough and a press release from the Department of Defense, on August 4th, the military approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).
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"The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs," read a statement made by Gough. "The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze, and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security."The Pentagon's recent announcement comes on the heels of a provision added to the annual Intelligence Authorization Act titled "Advanced Aerial Threats." In the provision, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee offered their support for the "efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force," and requested a "detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence, including data and intelligence reporting held by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force."Some have interpreted this to mean The Pentagon is now suddenly creating a new UFO task force, equivalent to a Project Blue Book 2.0. However, what the government really just did was give some significant muscle to its relatively reclusive but long-standing involvement with UFOs.Beginning in 2008, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was actively studying UFOs. The Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program or AAWSAP was a UFO research project contracted out to hotel magnate Robert Bigelow's Bigelow Advanced Space Studies.
In 2012, the DIA ended funding for AAWSAP. However, former Department of Defense Supervisory Intelligence Specialist, Luis Elizondo, says he continued pursuing UFO investigations from his position as the Director of National Programs Special Management Staff. Under the moniker Advanced Aerial Threat Identification Program or AATIP, Elizondo directed the program until the Fall of 2017. Elizondo resigned from the DoD in protest because he believed that senior DoD officials were not taking claims of encounters with strange and unexplained aerial objects seriously.While the Pentagon has been very cagey in discussing its UFO involvement going back to 2008, additional leaked documents published by Popular Mechanics show discussions regarding the transfer of responsibilities for AATIP to another unnamed official in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence just before Elizondo's departure.In a statement obtained in May by UFO writer Roger Glassel and reported by the Black Vault, Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough acknowledged a "multi-agency task force" led by the Navy and under the cognizance of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence has been in operation for some time now.Some have expressed skepticism or criticism of the DoD's investigations into UFOs. Instead of dismissing the idea, the Pentagon continues to bolster credibility that indeed some mysterious unidentified objects are soaring through American airspace.
Rather than establishing a new program, the ongoing and existing UAP Task Force's authority will come directly from the top of the DoD food chain via the Deputy Secretary of Defense's Office.In addition to the Pentagon's various branches, indications suggest the "multi-agencies" currently working with the UAP Task Force extend beyond just the DoD. When asked about any potential current involvement, an official with the FBI told Motherboard, "The FBI has a range of legal authorities that enable it to investigate federal crimes and threats to national security." However, specifically, when it comes to UFOs, the FBI official said, "We will defer to the Office of Naval Intelligence for comment."NASA, on the other hand, said that "through its Earth-observing satellites, NASA] collects extensive data about Earth's atmosphere, often in collaboration with the other space agencies of the world. While these data are not specifically collected to identify atypical technosignatures, they are publicly available and anyone may use them to search for atypical technosignatures."The space agency would rely on the broader scientific community to help search for and identify atypical or anomalous technosignatures, that might offer some answers to the DoD's current UAP problem. When explicitly asked about NASA's willingness to work with UAP Task Force, New said, "NASA is always open to collaborating with other agencies on areas of common interest.""Unfortunately, I cannot speak officially as to the current nature of the UAP Task Force, but I have every indication to believe that it is up and running, and is executing the mission consistent with the fundamental principles of AATIP," Elizondo told Motherboard in an interview in July of this year. Elizondo then explained that the current task force has better resources and "is far more robust" than AATIP was while he served with the Pentagon.This task force and the subsequent Congressional requests for unclassified information regarding unidentified aerial objects have made many in the UFO community very excited. While there are high hopes for some more public information, an official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told Motherboard, "We will evaluate the proposed provision and how best to respond to [Senate’s] interest."