The US Military has not outlined procedures for reporting UFOs in decades. Now, the Navy is writing up new plans for reporting UFOs. Why now? First, let’s talk a bit more about the significance of this news.
Politico broke this story yesterday in an article titled, “U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs.” The article states, “a significant new step in creating a formal process to collect and analyze the unexplained sightings — and destigmatize them.”
I think the last sentence is a key one because it would seem this stigma has caused the military to do a lot of linguistic gymnastics in the past when it comes to UFOs. It seems intuitively obvious that the military would be interested in aircraft entering U.S. airspace that cannot be identified. However, when you contact nearly any government agency requesting information about an unidentified object, the response is typical that they do not research UFOs anymore, so go elsewhere.
I know this first hand as a reporter and a previous UFO field investigator with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). The first case I investigated was a report from a bank security guard who had just returned from active duty in the middle east. Because of his training and experience, he was very aware of his surroundings. He had spotted an object in the sky west of Denver that was in the flight path of commercial airlines. After examining it on a couple of occasions and it still being there after a couple of rounds, he tried to call it in, but no one cared.
He called the FAA, the airport, the police, the news, but they said they didn’t have anything to do with UFOs. Finally, a news station suggested he call MUFON. He said MUFON was the only group who listened. I called the FAA, I knew he had reported it, but they said they had no record and I should call a different UFO group, the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC).
To me this was shocking. There is an unknown object which could potentially be posing a threat to the commercial aircraft nearby, and no one cared. The stigma attached to UFOs has caused a blind spot to taking public reports seriously.
The last time the military looked into the UFO phenomenon, there were publicly available instructions on how the military was to report UFOs. It was part of a joint system with Canada, ran by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). They even provided a poster to help military personnel know what to report and how. It included pictures of a Buck Rodgers looking UFO and a classic flying disk.
This was in the 1950s, and the U.S. Air Force still had an ongoing UFO investigation project called Project Blue Book. However, after Blue Book closed, everything UFO related was much more hush hush. Is this because they found aliens? Probably not. It was likely more about the stigma. They did not want to be embarrassed. Air Force Brigadier General wrote a memo when Blue Book closed that said UFO reports that “could effect national security” were made outside of Blue Book under a different reporting structure anyway.
So changing this stigma will be important if the Navy is to continue a positive approach to the UFO issue. It has been this stigma that has caused people to laugh, or run from the idea of UFOs. Scientists and journalists fear addressing the UFO topic can hurt their credibility. No doubt the Navy understands they are taking on this ridicule factor by setting up these guidelines.
Here is the full Navy statement. I received it via email from Douglas Johnson, a legislative strategy consultant in D.C. He says the statement comes from Joseph Gradisher, spokesperson for Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare. It is very similar to what Politico shared.
"There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years. For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the USAF take these reports very seriously and investigate each and every report. As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft. In response to requests for information from Congressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety."
In 2004, outside of San Diego, the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike group encountered UFOs on several occasions. In one incident, jets were zeroed in on the object, and a jet fighter attempted to chase one. He described the object as looking like a giant Tic Tac. The object turned towards him as he approached, then began to match his maneuvers before shooting off at incredible speed. Read more about this encounter here.
The pilot of the jet fighter was Commander David Fravor. His story was included in a New York Times article in December 2017 that broke the story of the existence of a Pentagon project that investigated UFOs. The Nimitz encounter was one this program had looked into. The program was called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), and the man who exposed its existence was the former head of the program, Luis Elizondo.
After the New York Times story was published, Elizondo and Fravor have done numerous interviews on network news programs. Since then, even more Nimitz witnesses have come forward. As far as we know, publicly, these are some of the witnesses the Navy is referring to.
As for briefings, Elizondo has said, publicly, he would only share the information that is his to share, and that is not classified. Some of what he will not share is information that may not be classified but has not been shared by the owners of the information. In other words, he is respecting his colleague’s decisions as to what they would like to make public.
Instead, Elizondo has stressed that this information should not come from him anyway and that he has been working behind the scenes to encourage the people with the information to share it.
Elizondo now works for To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA), a company started by rock star Tom DeLonge, formerly of Blink-182. His coworkers include several former intelligence officers. An acronym we often see we should familiarize ourselves with is IC (intelligence community). In other words, TTSA has connections inside the IC.
This is significant because the Navy says “In response to requests for information from Congressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety.”
In a previous article by Poltico's Bryan Bender, he asked members of congress if the AATIP news had changed their minds on UFOs. A ranking member fo the House subcommittee on space said it encouraged him to raise the question of holding hearings on UFOs.
Nick Pope wrote an article for the UK newspaper, The Guardian, in which he outlined months ago that Congress was being briefed by Nimitz encounter witnesses and on the nature of AATIP. While no one in AATIP worked for Naval Intelligence that I am aware of, apparently TTSA IC counterparts seem also to have been aware of these UFO encounters, and perhaps even more.
Some have said, "well the Navy has been interested in this stuff for a long time, so it is no shocker they are making these guidelines." I disagree. Given that it has been decades since guidelines like this have been in place, I think the timing is significant. I think it is no coincidence that after a large amount of public and congressional interest in AATIP and the Nimitz encounter that they also had a significant effect on influencing this decision by the Navy. The Politico article covers a lot of this as well and also seems to make this connection.
There is one last point to make. Tom Delonge posted this comment on Instagram, along with the Politico story yesterday:
“ADMISSION OF UFOs BEING REAL in @politico’s groundbreaking article is a DIRECT RESULT of @tothestarsacademy’s quiet efforts coordinating briefings to the Legislative and Executive Branch. TTSA has been working at the highest levels of the Navy, DOD and other Agencies to help create an architecture for dealing with the reality and National Security issues related to UFOs. Chris Mellon, Chairman of the TTSA ADVISORY BOARD, worked diligently for the greater part of a year on this breakthrough National Security Policy—- And yes, this is an admission by the NAVY that these Unidentified Aerial Vehicles are real. We are appreciative that @POLITICOmentions @tothestarsacademy in the article, but few will know that we initiated the entire effort. Thank you to everyone for believing in us, and there is so much more to come ;)”
There is no reason to doubt DeLonge here. DeLonge, personally, deserves more credit than he is boasting here. According to Elizondo, he was not planning on being outspoken about AATIP when he retired from the Pentagon. Elizondo was asked to join TTSA, who sought to investigate UFOs, and when TTSA was announced in October of 2017, Elizondo was introduced in the lineup as a former intelligence officer who worked on a UFO project in the Pentagon. This was the first time the public heard of this, and if it was not for DeLonge creating TTSA and recruiting Elizondo, none of this might have happened. What’s more, in the above Instagram post, DeLonge says more is on the way. Again, there is no reason to doubt him, so buckle in and stay tuned!
Read more about how Tom DeLonge's government connections and how he got TTSA started here.
*This article was corrected to properly attribute the "destigmatize" quote at the beginning of the article. Thank you to David Haith for pointing out the mistake.