The truth is out there ― but we need a better framework for ascertaining it.
At the first public congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years, lawmakers, along with intelligence and military personnel, largely agreed on at least one thing: We need to do a better job tracking “unidentified aerial phenomena,” and that begins with encouraging members of the armed services to report it.
In opening remarks Tuesday, Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), chair of the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, characterized UAPs as a “potential national security threat” in urgent need of monitoring and investigation.
“For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis,” Carson said. “Pilots avoided reporting, or were laughed at when they did.” Pentagon officials, he continued, “relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community.”
“Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated.”
The session included testimony from Ronald Moultrie, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, and Scott Bray, the deputy director of Naval Intelligence.
Moultrie told lawmakers the Pentagon is eager to destigmatize the issue and to encourage military personnel to report odd encounters. Data collection, he said, is key to identifying UAPs in a “methodical, logical and standardized manner.”
The Pentagon formed a group in November to investigate and identify UAPs, after a highly anticipated, declassified report earlier in 2021 identified 143 UAP incidents that couldn’t be explained. Bray said the database has since grown significantly and now includes around 400 incidents.
None, he said, are believed to be “non-terrestrial in origin.”
Bray showed lawmakers a handful of photos and videos of the UAPs to illustrate the value of better data, which takes time and effort to collect. In one example, a UAP spotted by a Navy pilot in 2021 flits in and out of the screen in milliseconds:
Here’s a still frame showing the reflective, spherical object before it disappeared from view:
“In many other cases we have far less than this,” Bray said. “This often limited amount of high-quality data and reporting hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP.”
Discussing another, high-profile video in which blinking, seemingly pyramid-shaped objects were filmed over the USS Russell destroyer off the coast of San Diego in July 2019, Bray said it wasn’t until a similar encounter long afterward that the Pentagon was able to glean enough data to identify the likely cause as a “swarm of unmanned aerial systems.” (In other words: drones.)
“I don’t mean to suggest that everything we observe is identifiable,” Bray said. “But this is a great example of how it takes considerable effort to understand what we’re seeing.”
The military categorizes UAPs into five groups: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, U.S. government or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, or “other.” That last category, Bray said, “allows for a holding bin of difficult cases and for the possibility of surprise and potential scientific discovery.”
After the 90-minute public hearing concluded, the subcommittee followed up with a closed-door classified briefing.