On Friday, we finally got that report. Or nine pages of it, at least.
The unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) report was short on answers but long on intrigue — at least as much as a government report written by a bureaucrat can get. To sum it up: 144 incidents, only one identified, and it was a balloon.
For a lot of people, nine pages and a classified report we can’t see aren’t enough.
But by collectively considering the few public statements, a few things we’ve been told, and a bit of speculation, we can make a pretty good guess at what the U.S. government is planning next when it comes to this UFO report.
The background on the Pentagon’s UFO report
After a few years of leaked videos and press buzz kicked off by a 2017 New York Times story, UAPs became too big to ignore. In 2020, two things happened:
- The Pentagon announced it was forming an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in August.
- The Intelligence Authorization Act was passed in December, mandating a report to Congress on its findings thus far.
The report took a fairly narrow time view, looking only from 2004 to 2021. The former is the year a video was recorded showing a military craft engaging with an object of unknown origin. (Watch that video below.)
The Pentagon report, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, looked at 144 total cases, classifying them into a few categories, amounting to:
- “Airborne clutter” (including birds)
- Weather and other natural atmospheric phenomena
- Drones and other aircraft from the U.S.
- Drones and other aircraft from foreign presences, whether China, Russia, another country, or “a non-governmental entity”
- And a bucket full of others that “probably remain unidentified due to limited data or challenges to collection processing or analysis, we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of them”
Seems easy to classify, right? But like we said: the Pentagon identified one, tracing it back to a balloon. There were also a few things that were a bit more eyebrow-raising. Here are the four most intriguing details covered in the UFO report.
4 mysteries from the UFO Pentagon report
4. “In 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics.”
That means these incidents involved the kinds of bizarre maneuvers that involve flight technology we don’t know about capable of things we hadn’t imagined (but could totally still be the work of a foreign government.)
However, the report states, “These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis.”
3. While the reports were clustered around places of military importance, they conceded this could be biased by the reports coming nearly exclusively from military personnel.
2. Patterns emerged, including “some clustering of UAP observations regarding shape, size, and, particularly, propulsion.”
1. The report stated that 80 of the 145 incidents — more than half — were seen by multiple sensors, meaning the objects were real and not instrumental errors.
So none of this says it’s aliens. But it leaves a whole lot of “we don’t know!” which necessitates further investigation.
So who will do the investigation?
Here’s a quick breakdown of the various government organizations that will continue this research.
NASA — One surprising government body investigating UAPs? NASA. The agency recently announced that it’s looking into the phenomenon with an open mind, with NASA chief Bill Nelson, formerly a Democratic senator from Florida, expressing public support for the investigation several times — most recently telling CNN he had been briefed on the report.
“I've seen the classified report, it says basically what we thought,” Nelson told CNN on Monday. “We don't know the answer to what those Navy pilots saw.”
He went on to describe the declassified version and reiterated again that the agency is looking into it. Nelson, while senator, had already talked to some of the naval pilots while serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee. This may account for some of his interest in the matter.
"What I asked our scientists to do is see if there's an explanation from a scientific point of view and I'm awaiting their report,” Nelson says.
“My feeling is that there is clearly something there,” he says. “It may not necessarily be an extraterrestrial, but if it is a technology that some of our adversaries have, then we better be concerned.”
Congress — In a statement given to the press, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “We look forward to reviewing the report and will host a classified briefing for the Members of the House Intelligence Committee later this year based on its findings and to build on the Member briefing held last week,” adding that “excessive secrecy will only spur more speculation.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the report “an important first step in cataloging these incidents,” but added, “The Defense Department and Intelligence Community have a lot of work to do before we can actually understand whether these aerial threats present a serious national security concern.”
This almost certainly tees up a congressional investigation, though the classified briefing is unlikely to please advocates for “disclosure.”
The Military — Shortly after the DNI report arrived, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks sent a memorandum to senior Pentagon officials and other top-military brass stating a few things:
- Military personnel should continue to report what they see
- The scope of the phenomena “expands significantly” beyond the Naval personnel that had thus far led the task force
- More robust tools should be used to gather data
Thus, Hicks called for procedures to “synchronize collection, reporting, and analysis on the UAP problem set, and to establish recommendations for securing military test and training ranges.” This included calls for pentagon officials to identify areas for “organizational alignment, resources, and staffing required, as well as any necessary authorities and a timeline for implementation.” This would involve the cooperation of the Director of National Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretaries of the various military departments, and other military personnel.
What comes next — The military isn’t done with investigating UAP. This report is the beginning.
Kellie Meyer, a journalist for the Nexstar Media Group, reported on Friday that the White House had been briefed on the UAP findings. But so far, neither President Joe Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris has commented on the matter. (However, Hicks’ statement would, organizationally, come from the executive branch.)
To get the funding for the military to further the investigation, including staffing requirements and other resources, the money will likely have to be approved by Congress. So further investigation — or the kind the military sees — may come after the classified congressional hearings.
It’s worth looking out for proposed military appropriations for 2022 come time for budget talks. Schiff, Rubio, and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) may be particularly vocal advocates, given recent public statements. Heinrich, who hails from the state where something fell from aloft outside Roswell in 1947, has expressed interest in the phenomena, also releasing a statement on Friday, saying:
It’s time to stop sweeping these unexplained sightings under the rug. We need to devote real resources and take a unified approach to gathering data and understanding UAPs – especially given the national security implications. The American people deserve transparency. And the federal government needs to be able to explain what is happening in our skies.
The Inverse analysis — So what does all this mean?
- Military personnel will feel freer in reporting incidents they see
- The military will have official reporting channels — and possibly an investigatory body — on these incidents
- Congress is likely to take up the oddly-bipartisan UAP cause, which of course, all kicked off under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who was the first to direct funding to the UAP investigation in a rider on an appropriations bill
Within a few years, there may be a body of evidence to say what, exactly, is going on. But who knows when that will happen, and what the answer will be. But those hoping for aliens or Atlantis may have the longest shot of having their dreams fulfilled.
With enough data, we might be able to tell what’s happening in a majority of these cases — hopefully, especially, in the ones where the craft is flying in a way that seems more advanced than anything we currently know about.