Two former Department of Defense officials told The Hill recently that they have concerns about the office assigned by the Pentagon to study "UFO" encounters with the military.
Former DOD employee Luis Elizondo, who headed an "informal" unit at the Pentagon to study military encounters with the less stigmatized moniker of "Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon" (UAPs), told The Hill that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, which is tasked with studying the issue, is "ill-equipped and improperly staffed."
Elizondo garnered national attention after going public with video of several encounters by the military with UAPs during the last two decades, and appearing on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" in May 2021.
"(UAPs) are not solely an intelligence issue," he told The Hill. "If we want 70 more years of secrecy on this topic, then OUSD (I&S) is the perfect place to put it. They’ve had four years so far, and we have little in the way of efforts serving the public interest."
The history of how much, or how seriously, the United States military and Pentagon have studied the issue remains a bit murky.
Officially released records show the United States Air Force conducted "Project Blue Book" from 1947 until its demise in 1969, which logged a total of 12,618 "UFO" sightings during that period, of which, 701 remain "unexplained."
According to the National Archives, that project eventually determined that; "(1) no UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication of threat to our national security;(2) there has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as "unidentified" represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge; and (3) there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as "unidentified" are extraterrestrial vehicles."
After almost five decades of steering away from the topic, at least publicly, Elizondo and other intelligence experts were brought together in 2017 to investigate recent military and "UAP" encounters, backed up by video evidence in several cases, where the actions of the "aircraft" could not be explained away through modern technology.
The resurgence of interest in the issue led to a bipartisan proposal in Congress to determine the threat of these phenomenon.
"If it is technology possessed by adversaries or any other entity, we need to know," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in her first interview to Politico about the effort in December 2021. "Burying our heads in the sand is neither a strategy nor an acceptable approach."
Gillibrand offered an amendment to declassify reports about the phenomenon, making the process more transparent to the public.
The Pentagon is also now taking notice and creating the new unit to continue studying the issue, but Elizondo and others wonder how transparently this will be done.
"If we want meaningful change and transparency, then we should keep the spirit of the Gillibrand amendment," Elizondo said.
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