The Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force is reportedly meant to standardize collection and reporting" on unidentified flying objects

By Ashley Boucher
July 24, 2020 06:48 PM
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The Pentagon's program investigating unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is still underway, as evidenced by a Senate committee report on intelligence agency spending last month, The New York Times first reported Friday.

Called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, the "mission of the task force will be to detect, analyze, catalog, consolidate, and exploit non-traditional aerospace vehicles/UAPs posing an operational threat to U.S. national security and avoid strategic surprise," a spokesperson for the Pentagon confirms to PEOPLE in a statement.

The spokesperson says that in regards to the task force reported on Friday in the NYT, "I can say that the department is creating a task force to gain knowledge and insight into the nature and origins of UAPs, as well as their operations, capabilities, performance, and/or signatures."

In addition, the task force is meant to share findings with the public 180 days after the enactment of the intelligence authorization act, the Times reports.

The previous director of the task force's predecessor, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, Luis Elizondo told the Times that the program began under the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2007.

According to the Senate committee spending report, the Office of Naval Intelligence will coordinate with the intelligence community, the Times reported.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon tells PEOPLE the "Department of Defense and all of the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously, and examine each report."

"This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as 'unidentified aerial phenomena' (UAP) when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing," the Pentagon's statement says. "Thorough examinations of any incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace often involves assessments from across the department, and, as appropriate, consultation with other U.S. government departments and agencies."

"The safety of our personnel and the security of our operations is of paramount concern," the statement continues. "To protect our people and maintain operations security, which includes not providing information that may be useful to our adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP."

RELATED VIDEO: Pentagon Authorizes Release of U.S. Navy Videos Showing 'Unidentified' Flying Objects

Elizondo told the Times that the task force will be more transparent than previous programs.

"It no longer has to hide in the shadows," Elizondo, a noted believer in UFOs, said of the task force. "It will have a new transparency."

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the task force's findings should be made public.

"It is extremely important that information about the discovery of physical materials or retrieved craft come out," Reid told the Times.

Mr. Davis, a defense contractor, told the publication he gave a classified briefing to an agency at the Department of Defense about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth,” and delivered other classified briefings of unexplained objects to Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee staff members in October.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

In April, the U.S. Department of Defense authorized release of three unclassified U.S. Navy videos that appear to show “unidentified” objects floating through the sky.

One of the videos was taken in November 2004, while the other two were filmed in January 2015, though they have been circulating since 2007 and 2017 respectively following an unauthorized release, the Pentagon said in a press release at the time.

While the videos had been leaked prior to their authorized release, the DOD said that it was releasing them in an official capacity "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."

Donald Trump commented on the clips in an interview with Reuters later in April, suggesting he was skeptical about their validity.

“I just wonder if it’s real,” Trump said. “That’s a hell of a video.”