On Aug. 4, 2020, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force (UAPTF). The Department of the Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, will lead the UAPTF.
The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.
As DOD has stated previously, the safety of our personnel and the security of our operations are of paramount concern. The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.
This is the first official government program affiliated with UFO research since a 2000s-era unit that analyzed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other UAPs lost its funding in 2012, even though multiple sources confirmed with Popular Mechanics that the unit remained active in secrecy after its shuttering.
According to CNN, which first reported the launch of the UAP task force, members of Congress and Pentagon officials have long expressed concern regarding the appearance unidentified aircraft in the vicinity of military installations.
A consensus remains elusive, however, with some believing the sightings are intelligence-gathering drones operated by earthly adversaries rather than anything extraterrestrial.
Amid uncertainty the Senate Intelligence Committee voted in June to have Pentagon and intelligence personnel provide analysis of the encounters, a move spurred on by the official Pentagon release of three short videos showing encounters between U.S. aircraft and unidentified flying objects.
The videos — two stemmed from encounters in January 2015, while the third dates back to November 2004 — were released “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,” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said at the time.
After circulating online for years, the now-declassified videos capture the bewildered reactions of Navy pilots as they were witnessing the inexplicable flight behaviors of up close and personal UFOs.
Defense Department officials claim they initially withheld the release of the footage partially to ensure nothing in the video required ongoing classification. All three are currently posted on the official Naval Air Systems Command page.
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” Gough added.