Since reports first surfaced in 2017 that the U.S. Navy had been encountering UFOs, the Air Force has been remarkably quiet when it comes to mysterious objects that may be flying around the skies.
Given the Air Force is America’s principal aerial and space warfare branch, and in the 1950s and 60s it conducted the only official investigation into UFOs with Project Blue Book , many UFOlogists have found the Air Force's recent aversion to discussing the topic to be particularly odd especially when considering that the Navy has been rather vocal on the issue.
Yet after months of deafening silence, in an official statement, the Pentagon suddenly throw the Air Force into the mix with recent UFO reports. More excitingly, it also mentioned one of the most notorious agencies in all of UFO lore.
Susan Gough, a spokesperson for the Secretary of Defense's office of public affairs, said the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations looked into the release of two videos originally filmed in 2015.
According to the DoD, the objects shown in these videos, originally released by Tom DeLonge's To the Stars Academy, are considered "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" or "UAP."
"The two 2015 videos appeared in the New York Times in December 2017. At that time, AFOSI conducted an investigation, focusing on the classification of the information in the video," said Gough.
Gough's mention of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations looking into the popular "Go Fast," and "Gimbal" videos is intriguing given it appears to be the first time the Pentagon has revealed the Air Force has indeed been involved in the Navy's UFO encounters.
For many in the UFO community, this comes as especially significant and concerning news considering AFOSI has a long and nefarious history when it comes to UFOs, with many claiming AFOSI are the "real men in black."
By federal statute, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations provides independent criminal investigative, counterintelligence, and protective service operations worldwide and outside of the traditional military chain of command for the Air Force and Department of Defense.
AFOSI is at the center of UFO culture, which most famously comes from the accounts of former AFOSI agent Rick Doty. Featured in the documentary film Mirage Men, Doty and AFOSI allegedly seeded a cornucopia of misinformation on UFOs in the 1980s in an attempt to safeguard classified UFO technology.
From the contentious MJ-12 documents, secret underground alien bases, cattle mutilations, crash retrieval of alien spacecraft, top-secret cooperative agreements and exchange programs with extraterrestrials and the U.S. government, an alien race called "Ebens" (aka The Greys), alien abductions, to the recruitment of once-prominent UFO researchers as clandestine assets of disinformation—virtually every popular UFO legend and conspiracy theory has some connection to AFOSI, because Doty claims he seeded disinformation while at the group’s command.
Doty's accounts aren't the only connections between AFOSI and UFOs. A CIA study published in 1997 detailed how in the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA and AFOSI promoted UFOs to cover up the then-classified U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance planes.
According to the study, "Over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights." the report stated. "This led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project."
Whether or not AFOSI still continues to be involved in UFO incidents today is unknown, although the Pentagon's recent statement suggests AFOSI hasn't completely given up topic.
The Pentagon's sudden mention of AFOSI in connection with the 2015 UFO videos is curious, considering there's never been any dispute these events were all U.S Navy affairs.
Throughout a series of emails chronicling the release of the videos by the DoD, which were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, the Navy is listed as the "Original Classification Authority" for these infamous UFO videos. Additionally, Gough said recently, "the U.S. Navy retains custody of the source videos for the 2004 and 2015 sightings."
Given one of AFOSI's roles is security management for highly-classified Air Force programs or SAPs, it would be easy to assume the Air Force’s interest in the 2015 videos was because the objects are actually classified Air Force technology. However, what the Pentagon says was the conclusion of AFOSI's investigation seems to suggest the exact opposite. "The investigation determined the videos were not classified," Gough told Vice.
Of course, the abrupt mention of AFOSI isn’t the only eyebrow raising statement to come out of the Pentagon as of late.
After months of saying the DoD had investigated UFOs within the controversial Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), weeks ago the Pentagon reversed course and now says AATIP was not related to UAP or UFOs and instead, “the purpose of AATIP was to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapons system applications with future technology projections over the next 40 years, and to create a center of expertise on advanced aerospace technologies.”
Part of the confusion or contradictions with the Pentagon’s official stance on UFOs may have arisen from a decision made in September that all UFO related media inquires to the DoD are now being handled solely by the Under Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs office.
“Incursions into military air space or training ranges by UAPs are problematic from both a safety and security concern—for all of DOD, not any one military service,” Gough said. “The investigations into these incidents also involve multiple U.S. government agencies. To ensure consistency in responses to queries submitted to DoD, individual military services and other DoD agencies, OSD (Public Affairs) took the lead in responding to all media queries sent to DoD regarding UAPs.”