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The Letter the Navy Sent a Congressman Who Was Demanding Answers About UFOs

 

Article by Joseph Trevithick                             March 6, 2020                              (thedrive.com)

• Last year, Congressman Mark Walker, (R-NC) and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security (pictured above), wrote a letter to the US Navy demanding answers to the military’s UFO sightings. On July 31, 2019, then-Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly wrote a responsive letter to the Congressman, who deemed it “frustratingly insufficient”. Politico reported on the response in September 2019, but didn’t publish the letter itself. On March 5, 2020, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, The War Zone obtained a complete, unredacted copy of the responsive letter.

• In his July 31 responsive letter, Moldy wrote, “There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled training ranges and designated air space in recent years. …The Department of the Navy (DON) takes these reports very seriously and continues to log sightings and fully investigate the accounts.”

• Congressman Walker’s original letter clearly asked the Navy for information about the highly publicized incidents that fighter pilots had reported, which involved flying craft capable of extreme levels of speed and maneuverability (ie: the “Tic Tac” UFO). But Modly’s letter makes no mention of the high-profile UFO/UAP incidents involving US Navy pilots and personnel dating back to at least 2004. It also does not mention the DoD/DIA’s Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program or its predecessor program.

• Instead, the Navy’s response focused on drones buzzing military bases. “The wide proliferation and availability of inexpensive unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has increasingly made airspace de-confliction an issue for our aviators.” Moldy’s letter then addresses what the Navy is doing about these drones. “Naval aircrews have been provided reporting guidance to determine the frequency and location of UAS operating in training areas. …The Department of the Navy continues to dedicate resources to the tracking and investigation of reports that could affect the safety of our aircrews.”

• Modly’s letter ends by saying that the Navy will continue to work with the House of Representatives via the House Armed Services Committee, of which Walker is not a member. It does not address the release of data or physical evidence relating to reported UAP sightings, which the letter specifically sought.

• Walker had sent his letter because the reported UAP incidents represented a threat to Homeland Security, including commercial and civilian aircraft as well as military ones flying in US Airspace. With these mysterious UAPs roaming the skies, Navy pilots had expressed concern for their safety. The responsive letter from the Under Secretary did little to alleviate those concerns.

• In a statement, Walker said: “While I am encouraged the Under Secretary of the Navy confirmed that UAP encounters are fully investigated, there is frustration with the lack of answers to specific questions about the threat that superior aircraft flying in United States airspace may pose. …If the Navy believes that China or Russia possesses advanced aerospace technologies that represent a national security vulnerability, the American people have the right to know what their government is doing about it.”

• It’s unclear if Walker, or any other members of Congress, have followed up or otherwise succeeded in obtaining additional information on this issue. Some Senators and the President have received classified briefings on the UAP sightings. But in September 2019, the Navy stated that it had not received any further requests from legislators on this topic.

• Whatever the case, the public safety and national security concerns surrounding UAP sightings are still very much in the public consciousnesses.

 

Last year, Congressman Mark Walker, a Republican from North Carolina and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, wrote a letter to the U.S. Navy demanding answers regarding sightings of what are commonly referred to as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Now, The War Zone has obtained a complete copy of the service’s response to these questions about how it is recording and assessing incidents involving what it calls unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, which the lawmaker has already said he felt was frustratingly insufficient.

On Mar. 5, 2020, the Navy released an unredacted copy of the letter, which then-Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly wrote on July 31, 2019, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Politico was first to report on this letter, after obtaining a copy, in September 2019, but did not publish or otherwise reproduce it in full.

Walker had sent his initial letter, addressed to then-Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, on July 16, 2019, and had made a copy publicly available on July 29, which the War Zone reported on at the time. It is also worth noting that Modly has been Acting Secretary of the Navy since Spencer resigned in November 2019.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled training ranges and designated air space in recent years,” Modly wrote in this July 31 response. “The Department of the Navy (DON) takes these reports very seriously and continues to log sightings and fully investigate the accounts.”

Modly’s letter makes no mention of a number of high profile UAP incidents involving Navy F/A-18C/D Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets, dating back to at least 2004. You can read more about these particular events in detail in these past War Zone stories.

It also does not discuss any Navy connection to the Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program (AATIP), or its predecessor, the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications (AAWSA) program, which existed for various periods of time within the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. You can find out more about those programs in these previous War Zone pieces.

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UFO Sightings May Be Falling, but Congress is Still Paying Attention

by Nick Pope                  October 15, 2018                     (theguardian.com)

• The Senate Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress is looking into a 2004 incident where US Navy pilots flying with the USS Nimitz strike group encountered, chased and filmed fast-moving unidentified objects. Reliable sources say at least two of the military pilots involved have already been interviewed. The House Armed Services Committee also received a DIA briefing on the Pentagon’s “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” UFO project.

• The AATIP was the brainchild of the then Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and much of the work was contracted out to Bigelow Aerospace, run by former budget hotel magnate and believer in extraterrestrial visitation, Robert Bigelow. Now, some of the people formerly involved with the project, including the DIA official who ran it, Luis Elizondo, have joined “To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science”, fronted by Tom DeLonge, the former vocalist/guitarist of the pop punk band Blink-182. Their mission is “to explore exotic science and technologies … that can change the world”.

• The UFO phenomenon should not be judged by number of sightings, which has decreased, but by the compelling nature of the evidence: reports from pilots on different flights; visual sightings corroborated by radar; photos and videos regarded as genuinely intriguing by intelligence community. The term “UFO” itself has become as obsolete, usually referring to an extraterrestrial “flying saucer”, which may or may not be the case. The new “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAPs) is a term not automatically associated with ETs.

• But Congress needs to get past debates over terminology and statistical analyses to focus more on the quality of reports in a far more meaningful assessment of the phenomenon. Irrespective of the outcome, these might turn out to be the most fascinating Congressional hearings in history.


There’s renewed interest in the UFO phenomenon and it’s coming from an unexpected source: the United States Congress.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is looking into a 2004 incident where US Navy pilots flying with the USS Nimitz strike group encountered, chased and filmed fast-moving unidentified objects. Reliable sources say at least two of the military pilots involved have already been interviewed, and a radar operator was subsequently invited to get in touch.

  Nick Pope and wife, Dr Elizabeth Weiss

In parallel, the House Armed Services Committee is taking an interest. Records from April show the committee received a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) briefing on the Pentagon’s UFO project, the cryptically-named AATIP. We know so little about AATIP that there’s even dispute over whether the acronym stands for Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program or Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program. The very existence of the project caused a sensation, because until the New York Times broke the story in December 2017, the US government claimed it had not investigated UFOs since the 1960s when sightings were looked at in a study called Project Blue Book.

As noted in the Guardian recently, data from two civilian UFO research organisations show that the number of reported sightings has fallen in recent years. However, there’s no single, global focal point for reports (the Ministry of Defence stopped investigating UFOs in 2009) and statistics will never tell the full story.

It would be better if the phenomenon were assessed and judged not on numbers alone, but by focusing on cases where we have compelling evidence: independently submitted reports from pilots on different flights; visual sightings corroborated by radar; photos and videos regarded as genuinely intriguing by intelligence community imagery analysts. Irrespective of the methodology we use to assess the phenomenon, how can we do so in an even-handed way when the subject has so much pop culture baggage?

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House Panel Lays Foundation for Future Space Force

by Sandra Erwin                 May 14, 2018                    (space.com)

• Last week, the House Armed Services Committee swiftly approved the recommendation of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on military space reforms to establish a subordinate unified Space Command under U.S. Strategic Command.

• Another recommended provision calls for the secretary of the Air Force to establish a new numbered Air Force dedicated to space war-fighting.

• The proposal sets the stage for further debate over the coming months as the HASC language moves toward a House vote and a House-Senate conference this fall.

• Said Rep. John Garamendi, “We have had seven hearings on this. They all made the same point: We’re not prepared to defend this nation’s space assets in part because we’re not organized to do so. …We need to organize our military to defend space assets.”

• Unlike last year’s bill, this one does not mandate the establishment of a separate space corps in the U.S. military. That proposal is on hold pending the completion of an independent study mandated in the 2018 NDAA.

• Ranking Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper said the HASC mark “continues our efforts to define space as a war fighting domain.” It is “vital to make space one of our highness priorities.”

 

WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services Committee in its version of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act — passed after midnight Wednesday by a vote of 60-1 — pushes forward with the reorganization of military space forces. The proposal sets the stage for further debate over the coming months as the HASC language moves toward a House vote and a House-Senate conference this fall.

The committee swiftly approved the recommendations of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on military space reforms. One is to establish a subordinate unified Space Command under U.S. Strategic Command. Another provision calls for the secretary of the Air Force to establish a new numbered Air Force dedicated to space warfighting. The bill also directs the deputy secretary of defense to develop a plan to establish a separate acquisition system for military space vehicles, ground systems and terminals.

Unlike last year’s bill, this one does not mandate the establishment of a separate space corps in the U.S. military. That proposal is on hold pending the completion of an independent study mandated in the 2018 NDAA.

The only obstacle in this year’s push to reorganize space was an amendment introduced by Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Turner to delay the creation of a sub-unified space command until after the Pentagon submits the independent study.

Turner was the chairman of Strategic Forces before Rep. Mike Rogers took over. His amendment would allow the secretary of defense to waive the requirement for the creation of a subordinate unified command if the study provided an alternative that congressional leaders found acceptable.
Rogers and Ranking Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper pushed back fiercely during the committee markup, and Turner’s amendment was rejected by voice vote.

Turner could reintroduce the amendment before the full House vote but he would face tough odds. The Rules Committee would take the HASC rejection into account before allowing the amendment to get to the House floor.

“This committee continues to place a high priority on following through with fixing the significant flaws in the organization and management of national security space enterprise,” Rogers said during the markup on Wednesday. “We continue to work with DoD on the report, but we recognize Congress has to continue to place significant pressure on the bureaucracy.”

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