THE WATCH STAFF
The Pentagon has established a new office to investigate reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) in sensitive airspace.
The Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) will succeed the U.S. Navy’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and be overseen by the military and intelligence agencies, according to aNovember 23, 2021, news release from the
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
The announcement by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks comes amid public interest in what once were called UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, and a proposed amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment seeks to create an “Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office” that would include experts from NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and other government organizations, according to a November 9 story by The Hill, a political news website.
Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said during a November 29 press briefing that the new office was created to better coordinate UAP reports and their analysis rather than “getting them sort of piecemeal and ad hoc, as we’ve beengetting them from the [military] services.”
“We will certainly continue to be as transparent as we can about these phenomena and the impact that they may or maynot be having on our ability to operate,” Kirby said.
On June 25, the U.S. government released a report on whether UAP sightings were “foreign threats, atmospheric anomalies, faulty sensors or even extraterrestrial life,” according to a November 24 Washington Post story. The findings came from more than 140 sightings of UAP dating back nearly two decades, the Post said, noting the reportyielded few firm conclusions.
Many of the sightings in the report originated with U.S. military personnel, including those of Navy aviators seen in highly publicized declassified videos. There has been bipartisan pressure on the Pentagon, especially from Capitol Hill, to identify such objects and whether they are a threat, according to the Post.
(Pictured: A declassified video by U.S. Navy pilots shows an unidentified object.)
The DOD’s news release said it “takes reports of incursions — by any airborne object, identified or unidentified — very seriously, and investigates each one.”
The AOIMSG will be overseen by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, the director of the Joint Staff and officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In a separate memo whose recipients included senior Pentagon officials and leaders of the U.S. combatant commands, Hicks said: “The presence of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) in Special Use Airspace … represents a potentialsafety of flight risk to aircrews and raises potential national security concerns.”
Hicks said the AOIMSG will “assess, and as appropriate, mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security” posed by UAP.
The group will focus on special-use airspace, which includes military operations areas, firing ranges and placesrestricted for national security uses.
In the June report, the Pentagon identified five categories under which UAPs likely will fall: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, classified U.S. aircraft, foreign adversary systems or “other.”
The report was the result of increased interest in the subject following a 2017 story in the New York Times newspaperon a previous Pentagon UAP effort as well as the 2020 declassification of three Navy videos of unidentified aerial phenomena. The DOD later established a UAP Task Force within the Navy.
Even though the report left open the possibility for “other” explanations for the observed UAPs, the Post reported, it stressed that there was no evidence of an extraterrestrial origin.
IMAGE CREDIT: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE