The recent revelation that the United States military had funneled some $22 million out of the Pentagon’s black budget to investigate reports of Unidentified Flying Objects was met with a variety of responses in the media, and from the public at large.  Some saw the investigation as a waste of money, others called it confirmation that we’ve been visited by extra-terrestrials, and as is so often the case when it comes to ideologically polarizing issues like the existence of alien life, the truth, most likely, lies somewhere in between.

In truth, the existence of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, started in 2007 and funded through 2012 while continuing to operate without specified funding, really only means one thing: The Pentagon decided to investigate what they deemed to be credible reports about what could be advanced aircraft in American airspace.


The term “UFO” doesn’t have to mean aliens.

While some have been eager to claim the Pentagon’s allocation of funds toward investigating these reports must mean Uncle Sam is aware of E.T.’s presence on earth, we need to remember that the nature of the investigation doesn’t dictate the origin of the aircraft being investigated.  In short, advanced aircraft in the skies over the United States pose a direct and legitimate threat to the nation’s national security, regardless of where they hail from.

“The feds have long had an interest in UFOs, going back to the celebrity cases of the late 1940s—Roswell, anyone?” explained Seth Shostak, a senior researcher at the once government-funded SETI Institute – an organization that searches for alien life via radio astronomy. “Much of the motivation for this interest was the worry that the strange things being reported in the sky might be novel Soviet—or today, Russian or Chinese—aircraft.”

Shostak is right.  Interested as Jim Mattis might be to learn that little green men from Mars are zipping through controlled airspace, the basis for allocating funds to investigate these reports is clear: threat identification and mitigation.  Whether these craft come from Alpha Centuari or Beijing, if they exist, the U.S. military needs to assess what threat they may pose to the American people.