Tim McMillan-defense uap–December 2, 2020
In an exclusive feature for The Debrief, U.S. military and intelligence officials, as well as Pentagon emails, offer an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of what’s currently going on with The Pentagon’s investigation into UFOs, or as they term them, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP).
For the last two years, the Department of Defense’s newly revamped “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force” (or UAPTF) has been busy briefing lawmakers, Intelligence Community stakeholders, and the highest levels of the U.S. military on encounters with what they say are mysterious airborne objects that defy conventional explanations.
Along with classified briefings, multiple senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter say two classified intelligence reports on UAP have been widely distributed to the U.S. Intelligence Community. Numerous sources from various government agencies told The Debrief that these reports include clear photographic evidence of UAP. The reports also explicitly state that the Task Force is considering the possibility that these unidentified objects could, as stated by one source from the U.S. Intelligence Community said, be operated by “intelligences of unknown origin.”
Significantly, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and head of RAND corporation’s Space Enterprise Initiative has—for the first time—gone on record to discuss some of the most likely explanations for UAP. His responses were surprising.
BRIEFINGS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS
In June, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s FY2021 Intelligence Authorization Act contained an intriguing section titled report on “Advanced Aerial Threats.” In the inclusion, the committee gave an eye-opening official hint (in recent history) the government takes UFOs seriously by offering its support for the “efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence.” The Intelligence Committee additionally requested an unclassified report detailing the analysis of “UAP” or “Anomalous Aerial Vehicles.”
Though already acknowledged by the Intelligence Committee, in mid-August, the Pentagon formally acknowledged they had established a task force looking into UAP. In a press announcement, the Secretary of Defense’s Office stated, “the UAPTF’s mission will be to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.” According to the release, authority for the Task Force was approved by the DoD’s chief operating officer, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist.
The summer news of the establishment of the UAPTF seemingly suggests—for the first time since the shuttering of Project Blue Book (the Air Force’s official investigations into UFOs) in 1969—that the Pentagon is now taking the subject of UFOs seriously.
However, an internal email obtained by The Debrief shows that almost one year before the DoD’s announcement, the highest levels of the U.S. military were already being briefed on UAP.
The email, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, shows an October 16th, 2019 exchange between then Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert Burke, and current Vice Chief of Staff for the Air Force General Stephen “Steve” Wilson.
In the email, Adm. Burke tells Gen. Wilson, “Recommend you take the brief I just received from our Director of Naval Intelligence VADM Matt Kohler, on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).” Adm. Burke concludes the email, “SECNAV [Secretary of the Navy] will get the same brief tomorrow at 1000.”
The “SECNAV” referenced in Adm. Burke’s email was then-Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer. A little over a month after this UAP briefing, Spencer was fired by then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper over public disagreements stemming from a series of controversies involving the court-martial of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.
Speaking on background, one U.S. Defense official lamented that a lack of continuity with DoD leadership might have hindered some of the UAPTF’s work. Within the past 24 months, there have been four different Secretaries of the Navy and five additional Secretaries of Defense. Vice Admiral Matt Kohler, noted for having provided the briefings, retired after 36 years with the Navy in June of this year.
Reaching out to several active government officials and individuals who retain their government-issued security clearances, The Debrief learned that last fall was a busy time for the UAPTF. On October 21st, 2019, a briefing on UAP was conducted at the Pentagon for several Senate Armed Services Committee staffers.
Attendees at the meeting told The Debrief that they were provided information on two previous DoD-backed UFO programs: The Advanced Aerial Weapons Systems Applications Program (AAWSAP) and the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). They were also briefed on “highly sensitive categories of UFO investigations.” Only two days later on October 23rd, staffers with the Senate Select Intelligence Committee were provided the same information in a meeting on Capitol Hill.
A former private contractor for AAWSAP and AATIP, Dr. Hal Puthoff, confirmed for The Debrief he was one of a handful of persons who conducted the October briefings. “I have been invited to brief congressional staffers on the Senate Armed Services Committee on UAP matters in the last couple of years,” Puthoff said in an email, “and have done so on more than one occasion.” Dr. Puthoff described the staffers during these meetings as being “engaged,” and provided “positive responses, [and] more details always being requested.”
The Debrief reached out to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Office and DoD Executive Services Office and formally requested an interview with someone authorized to speak on the UAP briefings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In an email, Senior Strategist and Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough responded, “To maintain operations security, which includes not disseminating information publicly that may be useful to our adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP – and that includes not discussing the UAPTF publicly, also.”
Official public affairs channels indicate the Pentagon is not interested in sharing any more information on the UAP topic. However, several current and former officials with the DoD and individuals working for multiple U.S. intelligence agencies told The Debrief that there was much more going on behind closed doors.
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