The Department of Defense is creating a new investigative body to track and analyze "unidentified aerial phenomena," as concerns grow about national security risks posed by UFOs.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, in a memo released Tuesday, announced the creation of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, "to assess, and as appropriate, mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security."
The move comes after the U.S. Director of National Intelligence in June 2021 gave to Congress a report about unidentified aerial phenomena," or UAPs. The report identified just one of the 144 reported UAP cases as a large, deflating balloon; observers in 18 incidents described "unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics," which suggested advanced technology.
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That report was the result of interest after the Pentagon in April 2020 unclassified three videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” or UAPs, not UFOs. The Defense Department in August established within the Navy, a "UAP Task Force." Then, in December, Congress approved funding in the coronavirus relief bill for a report about unidentified aircraft in restricted airspace.
When the report was released in June, Hicks said the Defense Department would "establish procedures to synchronize collection, reporting and analysis on the UAP problem set, and to establish recommendations for securing military test and training ranges."
The new group, which will succeed the Navy's UAP Task Force, will be established by Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, the DoD said.
But Luis Elizondo, the former director of the defense department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, who discussed UFOs on "60 Minutes" earlier this year, questioned whether the public will be served by the Defense Department's plan. The undersecretary's office "has underplayed and tried to kill the UAP effort for years," he tweeted.
He suggested the move is an attempt to "circumvent" the U.S. Senate's interested in the topic. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would create an advisory committee with experts from NASA, the FAA and other scientific organizations, Politico reported.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pentagon creates new group to monitor and 'mitigate' threat from UFOs