Over the past six years or so, the Department of Defense has been taking sightings of unidentified foreign objects much more seriously, declassifying information on UFO sightings and streamlining the process for pilots who have seen something they cannot explain. As part of the reform — which has excited millions of Americans who want to believe — the Pentagon will soon be looking through its own records dating back to 1945 to reexamine odd encounters from its past.
An amendment from Republican congressman Mike Gallagher deep in the $858 billion defense budget will require the Pentagon to review government records since World War II on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) — the Defense Department’s preferred term for what everyone else calls UFOs. The proposal tasks the newly formed, Orwellian-named All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) to review “any program or activity that was protected by restricted access that has not been explicitly and clearly reported to Congress.” The AARO, which also investigates new UFO encounters, has 18 months to deliver its report.
Considering how many military aircraft there have been over the past 78 years, the AARO has a lot of work to do. There’s the 1945 account of an avocado-shaped object hitting a communication tower at the Trinity nuclear-test site in New Mexico in 1945, the whole Roswell thing in 1947, the 1948 dogfight with an orb-shaped saucer over North Dakota — and that’s just the 1940s. Many of these encounters will be explained as routine, but UFO enthusiasts hope new information will be made public in the Pentagon’s inquiry into a problem that just won’t go away. “This is an important step that will give us a more comprehensive understanding of what we know — and don’t know — about incidents impacting our military,” Gallagher told the New York Times.
As the Pentagon looks back, there are dozens of new reports to consider as well. In a briefing in December, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie said that between June 2021 and August 2022 there were 171 unexplained sightings of UFOs that “appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities.”