Defense Department Forms New Group to Examine 'Threats' Posed by UFOs

UFO Investigation Group Defense Department Kathleen Hicks
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced the formation of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group on Tuesday. Hicks is pictured speaking during a 9/11 observance ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on September 10, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty

The Department of Defense (DoD) has announced the formation of a new group to counter any "threats" posed by unexplained phenomena commonly known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced that the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) would be the successor to the Navy's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force in a memo released on Tuesday.

A DoD release states that AOIMSG "will synchronize efforts across the Department and the broader U.S. government to detect, identify and attribute objects" of interest in restricted military airspace and "assess and mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security." Hicks wrote in her memo that "standardizing UAP reporting" would be one of the aims of the group.

AOIMSG will be administered by senior officials from the DoD and the intelligence community. The project will be overseen by an executive council comprised of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, director of the Joint Staff Lieutenant General Andrew Poppas and officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The formation of the group comes roughly five months after the release of a hotly anticipated report from the Navy's UAP Task Force. The nine-page unclassified document was "able to identify one reported UAP with high confidence" out of 144 investigated sightings. The identified object was deemed to be "a large, deflating balloon," while the other 143 UAPs remained unidentified due to a lack of evidence.

The report included 80 sightings that "involved observation with multiple sensors" and "11 reports of documented instances in which pilots reported near misses with a UAP." Despite popular speculation, the report did not uncover any evidence that the objects had an extraterrestrial origin. Investigators did state that most of the UAPs "probably do represent physical objects" regardless of the possibility of "observer misperception."

The new group could help address deficiencies in identifying the objects. During an "Our Future in Space" forum earlier this month, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said that the problems were in part due to the government not having "a consistent way of reporting" information and data on UAPs.

Haines said that Congress and the government were largely concerned that the UAPs could pose threats of earthly origin to aircraft or national security, while conceding that concerns about possible extraterrestrial threats cannot be fully ruled out despite a lack of evidence.

"The main issues that Congress and others have been concerned about are basically safety of flight concerns and counterintelligence issues," said Haines. "Of course, there's always the question of, is there something else that we simply do not understand that might come extraterrestrially?"

Newsweek reached out to the DoD for comment.