Despite publicly denying active investigations into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) for decades, the Pentagon has actually devoted considerable resources into the matter in recent years, according to information uncovered by the New York Times.  However, some of the most interesting elements of this developing story lie beneath the surface.

Since 2007, an office on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C-Ring has been bustling with active investigations that would make Fox Mulder’s mouth water, as Luis Elizondo and his team sought to shed light on reports of unexplained sightings of lights and crafts in the skies around the world. These investigations focused primarily on reports submitted by military personnel, such as aviators.
Between 2007 and 2012, some $22 million was allocated to funding these investigations from the Pentagon’s “black budget.” The program, which has never been acknowledged by the Defense Department prior to the New York Times story, carried the ominous title, “The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program,” and because the financing was secured through classified channels, it was not subject to debate on the Senate floor. It was spurred into existence by the actions of three senators hailing from either side of the political aisle at its inception. Harry Reid, a Democrat out of Nevada who was serving as the Senate Majority Leader in 2007, along with Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat served as the secretive department’s primary political champions. Stevens passed away in 2010, Inouye in 2012, and Reid retired from politics earlier this year.

Perhaps the most interesting elements of the story, however, pertain to connections the New York Times failed to address. Reid, Stevens, and Inouye, for instance, were sold on the need for an investigative arm of the defense department focusing on UFOs after a visit to a Utah ranch owned by billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who is currently contracted through NASA to produce expandable craft for human space travel. The ranch in question, which the New York Times refers to only as “Bigelow’s Ranch” in the piece, is likely the same ranch known in paranormal circles as “Skinwalker Ranch.” The area has been the site of reports of things ranging from strange lights in the sky to cattle mutilations dating back into the 1970s, but was closed to the public upon Bigelow’s purchase of the area for “research purposes.”

Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue,” Mr. Bigelow said in a recent interview. “Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma. China and Russia are much more open and work on this with huge organizations within their countries. Smaller countries like Belgium, France, England and South American countries like Chile are more open, too. They are proactive and willing to discuss this topic, rather than being held back by a juvenile taboo.”

While most have been quick to discount claims of strange occurrences at the ranch, the fact a U.S. Senator visited Bigelow’s facility and then promptly pursued classified lines of accounting for research into the subject does beg some difficult questions regarding what exactly is going on there. However, because Bigelow’s company received a lion’s share of the third-party contracting through the investigative arm of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, one could also argue that the billionaire may just be an extremely capable salesman.

Further muddying the waters surrounding the story broken by the New York Times is the October departure of the man who used to run the program. Luis Elizondo, the military intelligence official tasked with managing the investigations into UFOs and other unexplained aerial phenomena, resigned in protest earlier this year, citing what he characterized as excessive secrecy and internal opposition to the program.

“Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue?” Mr. Elizondo wrote in a resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis upon his resignation.

Upon leaving this secret group at the Pentagon, Elizondo took a position at a commercial venture called “To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science.” Also glossed over in the New York Times article regarding this subject is that “To the Stars” is the brainchild of former Blink 182 front man Tom Delong, who left a successful career in punk music to study UFOs and the possibility of alien life on earth. Like Skinwalker ranch, Delong’s efforts are considered by most to be laughable… but again, Elizondo’s decision to leave the Pentagon to join this organization begs some interesting questions.