Office of Naval Intelligence
In a blog post dated 9 July 2020, titled "Is the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) now part of the AATIP effort?" I explored that possibility. Now, in July 2020, we know that the ONI is indeed heavily involved.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Part of report 116-233 from the U.S. Congress Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, dated 17 June 2020, stated:
"The Committee supports the effort of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence, to standardise collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments and the threat that they pose to U.S. military assets and installations."
Department of Defense statement
Popular Mechanics magazine posted an article on their website dated 24 July 2020, by Andrew Daniels, which discussed the recent New York Times article on UAP, and various aspects of recent reporting on the topic.
Popular Mechanics sought and received, a statement from the Department of Defense, issued by spokesperson Susan Gough, and then updated their digital article with parts of that statement. However, researcher Nick Pope sought and obtained the full text of that statement, and it is worthwhile reproducing this in full.
"As we have said previously, the Department of Defense and all of the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously, and examine every report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAP) when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.
Thorough examinations of any incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace often involves assessments from across the department, and, as appropriate, consultation with other U.S. government departments and agencies. The safety of our personnel and the security of our operations is of paramount concern. To protect our people and maintain operations security, which includes not providing information that may be useful to our adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.
Regarding the task force mentioned in the article, I can say that the department is creating a task force to gain knowledge and insight into the nature and origins of UAPs, as well as their operations, capabilities, performance, and/or signatures. The mission of the task force will be to detect, analyze, catalog, consolidate, and exploit non-traditional aerospace vehicles/UAPs posing an operational threat to U.S. national security and avoid strategic surprise."
Analysis of the statement
1. "...incursions of unauthorized aircraft..."
The DOD has consistently utilised this phrasing of "unauthorized aircraft" when speaking of incursions; as opposed to the terms "drones;" "unmanned aerial systems;" "unmanned aerial vehicles;" etc. Thus, downplaying the suggestion that the incursions are possibly due to other than terrestrial vehicles.
2. "...into our training ranges or designated airspace..."
As we know, there have been reported observations due to incursions into DOD training ranges off both the east and west coasts of the United States. However, I note that "designated airspace" could refer to any part of the U.S., not just training ranges.
3. "This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAP) when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing."
This, to me, implies that they will be examing reported observations of both "unauthorized aircraft" and "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon," seemingly differentiating between these two things. A report of a drone like object with wings travelling at sub-sonic speed, is a different thing from a white, Tic tac like object travelling at hypersonic speeds.
4. "...consultation with other U.S. government departments and agencies."
Hence the fact that it is a Task Force; i.e. a group of individuals from various agencies, coordinated by one specific agency; in this case the ONI.
5. "To protect our people and maintain operations security, which includes not providing information that may be useful to our adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP."
This is consistent with earlier public DOD statements that no details of incursions, and their investigation will be made public. From an operation security perspective, this makes perfect sense. If you announce that you have detected an unknown object at 120,000 feet from a particular radar system you tell an enemy that your radar has at least this range. However, it seems to me that ONI could release some details to the public, e.g. number of observations in a specific time period; some description of what was seen, and whether or not their investigation revealed a cause; or that after a detailed examination of all the data, an observation remains in the UAP category.
6. "I can say that the department is creating a task force."
Luis Elizondo has referred to the fact that AATIP or its successor is already/still in place. Does this mean that the Task Force is already in place, or as the DOD statement says, is being "created?"
7. "The mission of the task force will be to detect, analyze, catalog, consolidate, and exploit non-traditional aerospace vehicles/UAPs posing an operational threat to U.S. national security and avoid strategic surprise."
Now, this to me, is an interesting word used in this context. I would have expected the Task Force's first job would be to collect observations and then take a look at that data. However, the DOD statement specifically says "detect." Does this imply that the Task Force, themselves will be out there actively seeking to observe the objects intruding on U.S. training ranges and designated airspace. This is very different from collecting observations from other people.
Once you have collected data, either from your own sources or that of others, naturally you wish to analyze them. Recall, though that this has already been undertaken by AATIP, where Elizondo refers to the five observables that they have drawn out of their data. Will the Task Force merely be reinventing the wheel, or will this analyze bring something fresh to the table?
Another unusual word to use, consolidate what|? Usually you collect, consolidate/collate, then analyze. I am not sure what consolidate means when used in the order detect, analyze, collate, consolidate.
Exploit what? Information gained from the anlsysis? To do what, use the data to build your own UAP?
e. "...non-traditional aerospace vehicles/UAPs"
So, is this an admission that the DOD already knows that some of the incursions are in fact due to "non-traditional aerospace vehicles?
f. "...and avoid strategic surprise."
A reasonable concept, avoid being surprised by advanced aerospace vehicles which you don't. yourself possess.
The statement does not describe the composition of the Task Force, other than that it is headed by ONI. Does it have representation from the USAF? NORAD? etc.
All in all, as per past DOD statements on UAP, the contents of the statement, raises more questions than it answers.