The truth is out there, or so those who believe in UFOs (unidentified flying objects) might have us believe. Now the Pentagon is taking the issue a bit more seriously and has announced that it will form a new task force to investigate so-called UFOs that have been observed by U.S. military aircraft over the years.
CNN reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist will help oversee the task force, which could be officially unveiled in the coming days. Previously, the efforts to look into "unidentified aerial phenomena"—the official Pentagon nomenclature—were overseen by the U.S. Navy as many of the documented encounters involved their aircraft.
There has been concern from the Pentagon, as well as from members of Congress over the appearance of unidentified aircraft over U.S. military bases and the dangers those poses to U.S. military aircraft.
However, this doesn't mean that the U.S. military is actually admitting the existence of aliens, nor does it mean that Congress is filled with believers in UFOs. In fact, there is a lack of consensus on what exactly has been seen that can't so readily be described. One concern is that it could be drones or other aircraft operated by very "earthly adversaries" seeking to gather intelligence rather than extraterrestrials looking to "first contact."
Senate Takes Action
The Senate Intelligence Committee had voted in June to have the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community offer a public analysis of the recent encounters over military bases. That came after the Department of Defense (DoD) released three short videos that showed U.S. aircraft encountering the unidentified aerial phenomena.
"DoD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos," the DoD said in a statement released in April. "The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as 'unidentified.'"
The Hill reported that the announcement in April was praised by former Democratic Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who had been a longtime advocate of more government transparency into the investigation of UFOs.
"I'm glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available," Reid tweeted in April. "The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed."
Alien or Cold War Tech?
The desire to know the truth has created a cult-like fascination with UFOs over the past eighty years, and in many cases what people may have thought were some otherworldly craft may have been experimental aircraft—some of which arguably had the look of a "flying saucer" such as the Avro Project 1794, an effort to develop a supersonic craft that could be used to shoot down Soviet bombers.
The desire to know the truth, even spurred the so-called "Storm Area 51" movement last summer—but fortunately, only a few dozen people actually gathered at the highly classified U.S. Air Force Nevada Test and Training Range near Groom Lake in Nevada.
Are We Alone?
As CNN reported, this isn't the first time the Pentagon has tried to pull back the curtain on UFOs. A previous study of recordings of aerial encounters with unknown or unexplained objects was conducted at the behest of Reid and it ran from 2007 until 2012. That program was shuttered after the Pentagon noted there were higher priorities that needed funding.
However, the former head of that effort, Luis Elizondo, reportedly told CNN in 2017 that he personally believed "there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone."
Maybe this time the truth will be revealed, and in the meantime, look to the skies.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.