Randolph R. Stone, the assistant inspector general for evaluations, announced the UFO-related probe in a memo published on the Pentagon’s website Monday, less than a month after leaked U.S. navy footage showed “pyramid-shaped” UFOs buzzing a warship. The Pentagon confirmed that the footage is authentic, but did not provide an explanation for what it shows.
The new watchdog probe will “determine the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” Stone wrote in the memo. “We may revise the objective as the evaluation proceeds, and we will consider suggestions from management for additional or revised objectives.”
Stone added that the investigation will begin sometime this month, and will touch on many different offices within the DoD, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It’s unclear when the probe will conclude or when the results will be made public.
The DoD office of the inspector general is an independent, objective watchdog that seeks to ensure ethical conduct and effectiveness in the department. It also monitors the DoD for fraud, waste and abuse, according to its mission statement.
Although scant on details, the announcement is the latest in a steady drip of UAP-related material from the U.S. military in recent years. Leaked videos and declassified documents have been spilling out into public view on a regular basis since approximately 2017, when a bombshell New York Times report revealed that the U.S. government had secretly been investigating UFO reports for years.
UFOs have been a taboo subject for decades, but U.S. military officials have taken a more open attitude toward the unexplained incidents in recent years. They’ve confirmed some UFO videos, declassified others and generally encouraged military members to report any encounter due to the potential risk it poses.
“This is all about frequent incursions into our training ranges by UAPs,” Joe Gradisher, spokesperson for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told CNN in 2019. “Those incursions present a safety hazard to the safe flight of our aviators and security of our operations.”
The Canadian military has also been logging UFO sightings by airline pilots, according to a report in Vice News. Many of those sightings have also been logged in Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Report System (CADORS), though Canadian officials have not been as open about the topic as their American counterparts.
The Pentagon officially started paying more attention to UFOs last August, when it announced a UAP Task Force to “detect, analyze and catalogue UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”
These developments have added fuel to speculation that the UFOs might be alien visitors. However, these phenomena remain unidentified, and it’s possible that a terrestrial actor — such as China or Russia — could be responsible for such sightings.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is scheduled to deliver a trove of unclassified reports about UAPs to Congress next month, as part of a mandate included in the U.S. government’s COVID-19 relief bill.