The new office, named the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), will serve as a central hub that collects, investigates and manages reports of UFO sightings across the DOD, which includes the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.
The office will synchronize the federal government's efforts "to detect, identify and attribute objects of interest… and, as necessary, to mitigate any associated threats to safety of operations and national security," according to the statement. "This includes anomalous, unidentified space, airborne, submerged and transmedium objects."
(A transmedium object is one capable of seamlessly moving between land, air and sea — like a UFO that was seen plunging out of the sky and into the ocean in eerie footage captured by the U.S. Navy in July 2019.)
The U.S. government has taken a renewed interest in UFOs over the past several years, following the 2017 leak of three now-infamous video clips showing mysterious, wingless aircraft soaring at hypersonic speeds past some dumbfounded U.S. Navy pilots. The U.S. Navy officially confirmed and declassified the videos in April 2020, but has provided no explanation for what the mysterious objects might be.
In 2020, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence called for an inquiry into UFOs — or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), as the government prefers to call them — citing concerns that there was no unified government approach for collecting and analyzing reports of such sightings. In June 2021, the Pentagon released a report on more than 140 UFO sightings by navy pilots — and concluded that there was no evidence of alien activity in any of these instances.
Numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have also resulted in more than 1,500 pages of UFO-related materials being released by the government — including strange reports that certain UFO encounters reportedly left witnesses with radiation burns and "unaccounted for pregnancy."
Funding for the new office has been provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 — essentially, a federal law that specifies the DOD's budget and priorities for the next fiscal year. The new office will be run by Sean M. Kirkpatrick, the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency's Missile and Space Intelligence Center, according to the statement.
Originally published on Live Science.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.
Brandon is the space/physics editor at Live Science. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.