Faced with growing concerns about mysterious objects in the sky, especially over military installations and training ranges, the Pentagon has created a new organization to search for answers about where they came from and what threats they may pose.
Formerly the purview of the Navy, the investigations into unidentified aerial phenomenon will now be conducted by the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, nested in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security.
“Incursions by any airborne object into our [Special Use Airspace] pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges,” the Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday night announcing the change. “DOD takes reports of incursions — by any airborne object, identified or unidentified — very seriously, and investigates each one.”
Special Use Airspace, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, includes areas over military bases, training ranges and national security areas.
This decision to create the new organization with the unwieldy acronym of AOIMSG, was ordered by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, “in close collaboration with the Director of National Intelligence,” the Pentagon said. It comes in the wake of a June report by the ODNI into objects in the sky that found no explanation for 143 of 144 incidents reviewed.
While investigators found no extraterrestrial links in reviewing those sightings of aircraft or other devices apparently flying at mysterious speeds or trajectories, they also came up with no conclusions. Instead, the report highlighted the need for better data collection about what’s increasingly seen by Democrats and Republicans as a national security concern. In all but one of the sightings investigated, there was too little information for investigators to even broadly characterize the nature of the incident.
There were 18 cases in which witnesses saw “unusual” patterns of movement or flight characteristics, the report said. But more analysis was needed to determine if those sightings represented “breakthrough” technology, the report added.
“It is critical that the United States maintain operations security and safety at DoD ranges,” Hicks said in a June 25 memo. ”To this end, it is equally critical that all U.S. military aircrews or government personnel report whenever aircraft or other devices interfere with military training. This includes the observation and reporting of UAPs.”
The report, said Hicks, “also confirmed that the scope of UAP activity expands significantly beyond the purview of the Secretary of the Navy, who heads the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), and suggested process improvements to ensure timely collection of consistent data on UAP.”
AOIMSG “will synchronize efforts across the Department and the broader U.S. government to detect, identify and attribute objects of interests in Special Use Airspace (SUA), and to assess and mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security,” the Pentagon statement said Tuesday night.
Overseeing that will be another organization with an unwieldy acronym within the USD(I&S), called the Airborne Object Identification and Management Executive Council. AOIMEXEC will be comprised of DoD and Intelligence Community members, and will “offer a venue for U.S. government interagency representation.”
The June report also identified the need to make improvements in processes, policies, technologies and training to “improve our ability to understand UAP,” the Pentagon said.
In the coming weeks, the DoD will issue “implementing guidance,” which will provide details about who will direct the AOIMSG, as well as its organizational structure, authorities and resourcing.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.