Probe Into Handling Of UFO Encounters Launched By Pentagon's Inspector General

Confusion and questions surround how well resourced and supported those investigating Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are within the Pentagon.

A DOD Office of the Inspector General, as well as the DODIG seal, overlaid on top of a screen capture from a video of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).
YouTube screen capture/DOD

The Department of Defense Inspector General issued an announcement yesterday that it is opening an evaluation into “the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).“ Importantly, the announcement specified an evaluation rather than an investigation, likely framing the inquiry in terms of policy instead of specific allegations of wrongdoing. The notice gave various organizations within the U.S. military, including multiple entities that are also members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, five days to designate a senior individual as a point of contact.

The distribution of the list notably includes the commanders of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Special Operations Command. The list does not however include other combatant commands, such as U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which has seen unusual incidents involving unidentified aircraft in recent years. The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General could not be reached for comment on why only some commands were included.

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The Department of Defense Inspector General memo announcing the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena-related evaluation.

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The distribution list for the Department of Defense Inspector General's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena-related evaluation announcement memo.

The Inspector General’s announcement comes at a time when this issue is receiving high-profile media attention. The War Zone team has covered this topic for several years, including a recent story concerning a bizarre incident involving unidentified aircraft swarming U.S. Navy warships off the Southern California coast. Since our story, filmmaker Jeremy Corbell published leaked photos and videos apparently connected to the event. The photos and video were quickly authenticated by the Department of Defense as being recorded by Navy personnel, but no details regarding their context have been confirmed by the Pentagon. Reporter George Knapp also recently published photos depicting a separate set of alleged UAP events that took place in recent years off the East Coast.

Asked by The War Zone about the circumstances surrounding the apparent leak, Department of Defense spokesperson Susan Gough told us that the photos and video were “provided to some web news outlets without following the proper procedures for authorized release of information.” She further stated that the Department of Defense concluded that confirming the cockpit photographs and night-vision video were taken by Navy personnel would “reduce public misperceptions regarding their authenticity.” Gough declined to comment on which outlets were “provided” with the information. 

It is interesting to note that the Pentagon used very similar language to Gough's statement when it officially released three controversial UAP videos, seen below, including one with the filename "FLIR" that shows an object that is now commonly referred to as the "Tic Tac," in April 2020. "DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos," a statement at the time read.

According to Gough, no formal investigation has been opened into the unauthorized release of the photos and videos. She further declined to comment on any questions regarding the context of the video, or the accuracy of media claims that these videos depict advanced craft.

Though there are few publicly available details about the Pentagon’s activity regarding UAP, that is expected to change relatively soon. In June of 2020, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence requested a public report on the matter, expected to be released in the coming months. The committee’s request specifically acknowledged a lack of a “unified, comprehensive process within the Federal Government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, despite the potential threat.” The request called for a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence within 180 days, leading many observers to expect the report sometime in June of this year.

It is unclear if the Department of Defense Inspector General’s evaluation will impact the timing of that report. The War Zone contacted the chairs of both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Armed Services Committee. They have provided no comment at this time.

It should be noted that the underlying facts of recent “UAP” incidents remain extremely limited. Shortly after our initial reporting on the 2019 USS Kidd incident, Task & Purpose reporter Jeff Schogol asked the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Michael Gilday, about the status of the investigation. According to the CNO, the aircraft remain unidentified. He added, “it’s been reported there have been other sightings by aviators in the air and by other ships not only of the United States, but other nations – and of course other elements within the U.S. joint force.” 

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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday.

This repeated pattern has raised concerns among The War Zone team that these sightings may represent a broader pattern of airspace breaches, carried out by foreign competitors using relatively unsophisticated technology. If this is the case, these breaches would arguably constitute a major intelligence failure.  Further, concerns abound that the confusing and often controversial nature of these sightings may contribute to a delayed or muted response by relevant agencies. The apparent lack of seriousness surrounding this topic, as well as the level of support in terms of resources and expertise may have prompted the IG to examine it. You can read more about what may actually be going on here, in regards to these issues and how the UAP issue is being treated by the government in this recent in-depth feature of ours

In the coming months, the public will hopefully learn more facts about the UAP issue and the Department of Defense’s response, or lack thereof, to it. If new insights are not surfaced in an expected report to the Senate, they may well come from the Department of Defense Inspector General, instead.

Contact the author: adam@thewarzone.com