Although it seems virtually impossible to find a topic that can unite all Americans, the Pentagon’s upcoming report on UFOs appears to have aced the task. Republicans and Democrats, former and incumbent officials, and even presidents have spoken on the much-anticipated dossier, which is expected to be released in the coming days.
Here is what is known about it:
Years of Demands
While the report was commissioned under former President Donald Trump, officials have been demanding that the Department of Defence share the information they have on mysterious flying objects for years. In 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid secured funding for the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme, a Pentagon programme that examined the US military's encounters with UFOs. It was officially disbanded in 2012, although US media reported, citing former members of the programme, that it was still operational through 2017.
In the 2010s, many US officials became interested in the topic of extraterrestrial life and UFOs after current and former servicemen shared stories about them. The testimonies resulted in calls from US lawmakers for the Pentagon to brief them on the subject.
The calls intensified in 2017, when The New York Times released a report that included testimonies from multiple US military pilots who claimed to have seen UFOs. That same year, an alien research group founded by ex-member of the band Blink-182 Tom DeLonge released three videos showing military pilots chasing unidentified flying objects. In 2019, the Pentagon confirmed the authenticity of the videos, which it said showed "unexplained aerial phenomena".
The videos, along with the DoD’s statement, poured fuel on the fire, prompting even more calls from officials and the public to release information on UFOs.
What Could the Dossier Contain?
According to the stimulus bill signed by Donald Trump, the report must contain a "detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence" collected by US intel agencies as well as the DoD unit known as the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, which was created last year to detect and analyse sightings of mysterious flying objects.
Experts say that the upcoming dossier will detail encounters of the US military with UFOs as well as sightings reported by civilians. According to former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, the dossier is also likely to provide more information about popular UFO sightings that have been reported in other corners of the world.
Darn it, Will it Confirm the Existence of Aliens?
The ideas of UFOs and extraterrestrial life forms are often closely associated, if not inseparable. A 2019 poll conducted by Gallup revealed that a third of adults in the US believe UFO sightings involved aliens spaceships. Experts warn that the upcoming report is unlikely to confirm or deny the existence of extraterrestrial life and instead focus on whether the reported objects, in particular the three videos of US pilots chasing UFOs flying at extreme speeds, could belong to rival powers such as Russia or China. The law ordering the report says it must address the matter of whether the UFOs pose a threat to US national security and the security of its forces.
It May Change People’s Beliefs
Former US President Barack Obama said that if the Pentagon dossier confirms the existence of extraterrestrial life, it would challenge belief systems across the globe.
"No doubt there would be immediate arguments about like, well, we need to spend a lot more money on weapons systems to defend ourselves. New religions would pop up. And who knows what kind of arguments we get into. We’re good at manufacturing arguments for each other", Obama said.
The former president recently spoke on the upcoming report, saying the government has videos of objects that officials struggle to explain. He, however, refused to answer whether Washington has evidence that extraterrestrial life exists.
The Truth is Out There, But US Intelligence Won’t Reveal it
In March, Politico wrote, citing incumbent and former officials, that some military and spy agencies have shown reluctance, if not outright resistance, to share the classified information, with some individuals suggesting that the upcoming report won’t be comprehensive and will fail to satisfy the interest of the public and officials.
Some reports say that the much-anticipated dossier will likely be delayed due to the limited amount of time provided for it to be drawn up. The Pentagon has been given 180 days to compile the report, which some officials say is not enough to provide a detailed insight into the issue.
"It's certainly not sufficient time to provide a comprehensive, government-wide report that Congress not only expects, but that Congress deserves and frankly, so does the American people", said Lue Elizondo, who investigated UFOs at the Pentagon until 2017.
Reports say the dossier will be released in the coming days or at the end of June. As mentioned earlier, some officials say, however, that it will likely be delayed or even scrapped altogether.