It’s been over a year now since the New York Times released a story that forced the Department of Defense (DoD) to acknowledge a secret program within the DoD that was tasked with investigating reports of unidentified flying objects within the U.S. military. Throughout, the program called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was colored as an investigatory arm of the Pentagon, with its sights set squarely on the possibility of flying saucers and little green men. Still, internal documents released via Freedom of Information Act requests now seem to suggest that the program was much more like Fox’s series “The X-Files” than previously thought.

Luis Elizondo, the former head of the program, resigned in protest in late 2017 due to what he claimed was a dangerously dismissive atmosphere within the top echelons of America’s defense apparatus. Elizondo’s resignation, as well as his subsequent involvement in Tom Delong’s UFO-centric “To the Stars Academy,” have both come with a large emphasis on the possibility of extra-terrestrial visitors.

In Elizondo’s own words:

“My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone. These aircraft—we’ll call them aircraft—are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the U.S. inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of. Things that don’t have any obvious flight services, any obvious forms of propulsion, and maneuvering in ways that include extreme maneuverability beyond, I would submit, the healthy G-forces of a human or anything biological.”

He went on to state specifically that he believes the personal biases of DoD officials have prevented further investigation into what Elizondo believes to be credible threats. That distinction is important because, aside from some very interesting videos, Elizondo has not provided the public with much in the way of evidence to substantiate his claims.

“Despite overwhelming evidence at both the classified and unclassified levels, certain individuals in the [Defense] Department remain staunchly opposed to further research on what could be a tactical threat to our pilots, sailors and soldiers, and perhaps even an existential threat to our national security.”

However, a look at a long list of reports prepared for AATIP suggests that spacecraft were far from the only thing under investigation. A great deal of research, largely farmed out to Robert Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace through government contract, involved a wide range of unusual topics, some with only tertiary relation to advanced airborne threats in U.S. airspace.

The list of reports created for the AATIP includes investigations into seemingly-legitimate advanced efforts being mounted by some of the most credible experts in the world–programs like Lockheed Martin’s efforts to harness cold fusion, which NEWSREP has covered in the past. Others, offer tantalizing credibility to longstanding theories from within the UFO community–such as multiple reports on the topic of manipulating gravity as a means of propulsion. It has been a long-held belief among some UFO investigators that UFOs seen in the skies over Earth utilize electromagnetism to manipulate gravity–a concept that many further theorize informed the Nazi Bell, a near-legendary Nazi program riddled with rumors of alien interaction and even time travel.

The sheer breadth of topics covered in the list of reports alone suggests a far broader approach to the concept of alien life traversing the stars than previous reports had indicated. Far from simply looking into reports of strange lights in the sky, it now seems apparent that the AATIP program was operating under a “benefit of the doubt” mentality–looking into possible explanations for things many of us aren’t sure even exist. To some, this could suggest that classified evidence substantiated these efforts–to others, this might sound more like good old-fashioned government “waste and abuse.”

Some of the reports produced for the AATIP, however, could easily have gone on to inform ongoing defense initiatives, despite their “spooky” origins. The AATIP was looking into ways to spot, identify and track objects traveling at hypersonic speeds years ago–a topic of great concern now that nations have begun fielding hypersonic missiles. The report on “controlling external devices in the absence of limb-operated interfaces” may sound like they were experimenting with mind reading, but last year DARPA announced that its paralyzed test subjects had successfully controlled not one, but multiple separate aircraft simultaneously in simulations via a chip embedded in their brains. To be put simply, some of the efforts, though outlandish sounding, do have legitimate and credible defense applications. It’s important to note, however, that there’s no evidence to suggest that the work put into these reports directly informed or even had an effect on subsequent efforts within the same field.

Pentagon's UFO program was more like the 'X-Files' than a real defense initiative - likely why it was cancelled
With Russia and China developing hypersonic missiles, the need to locate and track them now has legitimate defense implications. (YouTube)

These reports seem to run the gamut of potential spacecraft and military technology, from high-energy lasers like those the Air Force hopes to field on aircraft in the 2020s, to traveling through wormholes that may or may not even exist. Therein lies what may have truly been the problem with the AATIP, which was defunded in 2012 but likely continues in a reduced capacity to this day: a lack of quantitative deliverables.

The Pentagon may not be a for-profit institution, but programs still need to be assessed by some standard. Often, when establishing a new program, there’s a certain degree of leeway in the way that assessment takes shape based on the stated objectives of the program and a reasonable expectation for some sort of conclusion to be derived from the effort. If you’re building a new airplane, it needs to meet a performance standard based on what it’s being built to do. If you’re establishing a new public relations initiative, you have to borrow some marketing tactics to turn qualitative public responses into quantitative numbers to justify your continued expense. The AATIP, however, seems to have lacked a clear direction or focus that could produce measurable returns. After $22 million of the taxpayer’s money (which, it’s important to note, is not that substantial spread out over years and multiple investigations), Elizondo and crew could offer only their fervent belief that the phenomena in question warrants continued investigation.

Had the program focused solely on gathering evidence tied directly to sightings of unusual aircraft in the night sky, the AATIP may have lived a longer life or even uncovered some interesting details about UFO phenomena in a way only the Pentagon could. Still, at least it seems like the program may have skipped the night sky altogether, in favor of examining the possibilities of interstellar travel–an issue notably lacking importance in a discussion about national security.