The primary congressional hearing on UFOs in a long time offered little recent or conclusive for anyone hoping for an announcement that the US government has been tracking technologically advanced extraterrestrial lifeforms, as intelligence officials told lawmakers they still weren’t sure what the unidentified objects seen by military pilots actually are.
However the hearing held on Tuesday before the US House Intelligence Committee’s subcommittee on counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and counterproliferation did offer a recent level of transparency on a subject often shrouded in secrecy and rumour.
“We wish to know what’s on the market as much as you should know what’s on the market,” US Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, who oversees a recent Pentagon program investigating UFOs, told lawmakers. “We get the questions not only from you; we get them from relations and we get them night and day, not only in committee hearings. So finding what’s on the market is essential.”
Mr Moultrie was joined by Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray, the pair offering the primary public testimony before congress on the subject of UFOS — or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) in the brand new Pentagon lingo — because the Seventies. That’s when the US Air Force ended Project Blue Book, an investigation into UFOs that concluded the available evidence suggested UFOs were a national security threat, and didn’t represent advanced and/or extraterrestrial technology.
But in 2020, the Department of Defence arrange a UAP task force inside the Department of the Navy to analyze recent UFO/UAP sightings by military pilots over training ranges. A report based on the work of that task force and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in June 2021 also found insufficient evidence to conclude sightings represented aliens or advanced foreign adversaries, but did conclude that most of the sightings were real physical objects.
The report noted 143 UFO/UAP sightings since 2004 that were still unexplained.
“For the reason that early 2000s, we have now seen an increasing variety of unauthorized and or unidentified aircraft or objects in military control training areas, and training ranges and other designated airspace,” Mr Bray told lawmakers. “Reports of sightings are frequent and continuing.”
Congress made funding available within the Fiscal 12 months 2022 budget to create the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, which Moultrie oversees, inside the Pentagon. The group has created processes by which military personnel can report sightings of UFOs/UAPs.
“We all know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena and since UAPs pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we’re committed to a spotlight effort to find out their origins,” Mr Moultrie said. “Our goal is to eliminate the stigma by fully incorporating our operators and mission personnel right into a standardized data gathering process. We consider that making UAP reporting a mission imperative will likely be instrumental to the trouble’s success.”
That approach is already paying dividends. The variety of unexplained UFO/UAP sightings the group is tracking has grown to 400 because the report was released last summer.
“The message is now clear. When you see something you want to report it, and the message has been received,” Mr Bray said. “In reality, recently, I received a call from a senior naval aviator with over 2,000 flight hours. He called me personally from the flight line after landing to discuss an encounter that he had just experienced.”
Each intelligence officials agreed with lawmakers that transparency with the general public concerning UFOs/UAPs is essential, and committed to creating disclosures when possible. The important thing thing, they said, was ensuring that in revealing details about UFOs/UAPs, the US military didn’t provide terrestrial adversaries with classified information.
“What’s really necessary for us to guard is how we all know certain things,” he said. “Many [UFO/UAP sightings] are the results of a few of our most sensitive sources and methods, and we’ll use those things not only for this effort, but those self same sources and methods are used to assist protect us from adversaries and from others who might mean to do us harm. There aren’t separate UAP sensors.”
For that reason, Tuesday’s hearing adjourned before midday in order that the intelligence officials could temporary the lawmakers in additional detail in a classified briefing.
“For information that we have now, when it doesn’t involve sources and methods, and when we will with an affordable degree of confidence determine that if it doesn’t pose a foreign intelligence or national security threat, and it’s inside my authority to accomplish that, I commit to declassifying that,” he said. “I think very much within the transparency of this and we work very hard to balance that with our national security needs.”
But each Mr Bray and Mr Moultrie also asserted that even with classified information, the challenge facing the Pentagon’s recent program is the proven fact that most UFO/UAP sightings provide scant information. In a single video shown on the hearing, a spherical UFO/UAP could barely be seen when zooming past a military aircraft cockpit.
Video of possible UFO sightings shown to Congress
Determining which UFO/UAP sightings can’t be easily explained by aerial debris, akin to Mylar balloons, weather phenomena, business or military drone aircraft or sensor artifacts, — common explanations in some cases — and just what lies behind the remaining, mysteries objects, will take time, in line with Mr Bray.
“As a lifelong intelligence skilled, I’m impatient. I would like the immediate explanations for this as much as anyone else,” he told lawmakers. “Nonetheless, understanding can take significant effort and time.”