Office of the U. S. Director of National Intelligence
On Friday 25 June 2021, the United States government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence, issued a release on their online "Newsroom." It was headlined, "Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." The media release simply said:
"The Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted to Congress a preliminary report regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) that relays the progress the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force has made in understanding UAP."
The "Newsroom" provided a link by which anyone could download and read the report.
A couple of initial pieces of information
Comment 1: The UAPTF itself was formally established on 4 August 2020 by Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist. The lead agency for the UAPTF was stated to be the Department of Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. The mission of the Task Force was to "...detect, analyze and catalogue UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security." A Task Force is usually "stood up" to look at a specific topic; then to report its findings and then is "stood down."
Comment 2: This preliminary assessment report was to fulfill a request from the U.S. Congress. On 17 June 2020, in a report numbered Report 116-233, from the U.S. Congress Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, there was a direction: "...the Committee directs the DNI, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense...to submit a report...on unidentified aerial phenomena..."
Pentagon Press Secretary
Also on the same day, 25 June 2021, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby made a statement on unidentified aerial phenomena, titled "Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Assessment." It read:
"Today the Director of national intelligence delivered to congress a preliminary assessment on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and the progress that the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense UAP Task Force has made in understanding this threat."
Comment 3: Note that the ODNI release speaks of the "...progress the unidentified Aerial Phenomena task Force has made..." whereas the Pentagon release speaks of "...the progress that the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense UAP Task Force has made..." as if the "Intelligence Community" and the "UAPTF" are two entities which has each made separate degrees of progress on understanding UAP.
"Analyzing UAP is a collaborative effort involving many departments and agencies, and the Department thanks the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for leading a collaborative effort to produce this assessment, as well as the other contributing departments and agencies.
"Incursions into our training ranges and designated airspace pose a safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges. DOD takes reports of incursions - by any aerial object, identified or unidentified - very seriously and investigates each one."
Comment 4: The above statement about incursions is almost an exact word for word phrase previously issued by DOD spokesperson Susan Gough, when contacted to comment about the topic. There has never been a clarification by the DOD as to how it has investigated each incursion, citing operational security as preventing them commenting.
"The report submitted today highlights the challenges associated with assessing UAP occurring on or near DOD training ranges and installations. The report also identified the need to make improvements to processes, policies, technologies and training to improve our ability to understand UAP.
"To that end, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks today directed the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security to develop as plan to formalize the mission currently performed by the UAPTF.
"The plan will be developed in collaboration with various DOD components, including the military departments, the combatant commands, and with ODNI and other interagency partners. The plan will establish procedures for synchronizing collection, reporting and analysis of UAP; provide recommendations for securing military test and training ranges and identify requirements of the establishment and operation of a new, follow-up DOD activity to lead the effort, including its alignment, resources, staffing, authorities; and a timeline for implementation.
"You can find the ODNI UAP assessment report on dni.org."
Direction from Deputy Secretary of Defense
Here is an image of the direction from the Deputy Secretary of Defense:
What is in the unclassified report which was released?
The report itself, is nine pages long, and is "unclassified." It is understood that there is a "classified addendum" to the unclassified report released. The full unclassified and classified report in total, has apparently been provided to Congress. Although there have been "leaks" of alleged portions of the contents of the classified segment, these have not been confirmed. I recommend that you read the entire unclassified nine pages, although I am going to provide my highlights and comments below.
1. The opening "Scope and Assumptions" refers to UAP as a "threat." This has been a common, consistent narrative coming out of the DOD. This use of the word 'threat" is to be expected by the DOD, as after all it is the Department of Defense - specifically set up to detect and challenge threats to U.S. national security.
2. "The Director, UAPTF, is the accountable official for ensuring the timely collection and consolidation of data on UAP."
Comment 5: The Director of the UAPTF, on 23 June 2021, was revealed to be an individual named Brennan McKernan, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst.
3. "...the ODNI National Intelligence Manager for Aviation drafted this report."
Comment 6: National Intelligence Managers (NIMs) are the DNI's principal advisors in their respective roles. It is therefore interesting to note that the Aviation NIM drafted the report, as opposed to the Director of the UAPTF. Presumably because it was the DNI who was asked to provide the report to Congress and so her organization drafted the report. A search for the name of the current Aviation NIM was unsuccessful.
4. "Limited data and inconsistency in reporting are key challenges to evaluating UAP."
Comment 7: Civilian UAP researchers have often commented about the abundance of data collected since 1947. Some have suggested that we should stop collecting data and get on with analyzing it. Others point out that what we really lack is high quality multiple sensor data, so it is noteworthy to read the following UAPTF statement:
5. "80 reports involved observations with multiple sensors."
Comment 8: Of course this high quality sensory data is not available to civilian researchers.
6. "Some UAP appear to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings."
Comment 9: Although civilian UAP researchers have pointed out all of the above aspects, in the past, it is welcoming to see the UAPTF report making the same observations about UAP characteristics.
7. "The UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appears to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management."
Comment 10: Again, nothing new here to civilian researchers, but nevertheless nice to see it stated.
8. "Some UAP observations could be attributable to developments and classified programs by U.S. entities. We were unable to confirm, however, that these systems accounted for any of the UAP reports we collected."
Comment 11: So, at the moment, no evidence of the origin being U.S. entities.
9. "Some UAP may be technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation or a non-government entity."
Comment 12: Shortly after statement 9 appears another one, 10: which says:
10. "We currently lack data to indicate any UAP are part of a foreign collection program or indicative of a major technological advancement by a potential adversary."
11. "UAP pose a hazard to safety of flight..."
Comment 13: NARCAP, a civilian UAP reporting system for aircraft flight crew has been saying this for many years and has some excellent examples of near misses between aircraft and UAP.
12. " The UAPTF has begun to develop interagency analytical and processing workflows to ensure both collection and analysis will be well informed and coordinated."
Comment 14: Coordinated collection is certainly a key, followed by centralized analysis of the data, and hopefully then public dissemination of that data.
13. "The UAPTF is currently working to acquire additional reporting, including from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and has begun receiving data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.)
Comment 15: It is crucial to collect data from both USAF systems and civilian air traffic personnel. and systems.
14. " The UAPTF has indicated that additional funding for research and development could further the future study of the topic laid out in this report. Such instruments should be guided by a UAP Collection Strategy, UAP R & D Technical Roadmap and a UAP Program Plan."
Comment 16: This bodes well for a further more in-depth program of UAP study by the U.S. government. But, let us not forget that there are vast civilian collections of information which are held. It would appear that the UAPTF or follow-up entity will broaden from collecting military only cases, to include civilian aircrew, and FAA radar observations.
In my opinion, this Preliminary Assessment report on UAP, acknowledge the reality of UAP; shows there are unexplained characteristics of some cases; provides a road map for future USG research, and certainly does not rule out a more exotic explanation for some UAP.
What has the response been to the report?
The current Administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson who was formerly a U.S. member of Congress, has been quoted extensively on the topic of UAP in numerous mainstream media outlets, in recent times. However, here are a couple of comments attributed to him, following the release of the UAPTF report:
"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Sunday said he does not think individuals on Earth "are alone" in the universe, following the release of a United States intelligence report that revealed that..."
"Nelson, who has reviewed the unclassified and classified versions of the report says he believes Earth is not alone in the galaxy."
In a 27 June 2021 article by Jerry Dunleavy, that author wrote:
"Ratcliffe told Fox News host Dan Bongino for a Saturday episode of Unfiltered that UFOs are a matter of national security...and there are technologies that we don't have and frankly that we are not capable of defending against."
A 26 June 2021 report by New Yorker journalist Gidean Lewis- Kraus included a comment attributed to Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida and on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"This report is an important first step in cataloguing these incidents, but it is just a first step. The Defense Department and the Intelligence Community have a lot of work to do before we can actually understand whether these aerial threats present a serious national security concern."
In the above New Yorker article there was also a comment by Adam Schiff from California, who heads the House Intelligence Committee and is cited as saying:
"We should approach these questions without preconceptions to encourage a thorough, systematized analysis of the potential national security and flight safety risks posed by unidentified aerial phenomena whether they are the results of a foreign adversary, atmospheric or other aerial phenomena, space debris or something else entirely."
"I was first briefed on these unidentified aerial phenomena nearly three years ago. Since then, the frequency of these incidents only appears to be increasing. The United States must be able to understand and mitigate threats to our pilots, whether they're from drones or weather balloons or adversary intelligence capabilities. Today's rather inconclusive report only marks the beginning of efforts to understand and illuminate what is causing these risks to aviation in many areas around the country and the world."
In Australia, an online ABC Radio Adelaide article by journalist Malcolm Sutton appeared on 1 July 2021. It cited the views of Australian astrobiologist Jonti Horner, a professor at the University of Southern Queensland's Centre for Astrophysics, after reading the UAPTF report.
Speaking of sightings by military pilots:
"As soon as you take these out of the top-secret locker and make them public, you suddenly open them up to scrutiny of a much wider variety of people with very different expertise."
Citing the recent finding of upper atmospheric lighting known now as elves and sprites, as coming form pilot observations that weren't recognized at the time:
"Professor Horner said a similar skepticism had greeted reports of electrostatics phenomenon associated with meteorites and fireballs from the sky."
He went on to say that:
"So, I think that a release like this is a really positive thing; because it encourages people to view the things they see without feeling embarrassed about it..."
Update: 7 July 2021
Thanks to blog reader Ilja Leedulane, we now know who the National Intelligence Manager for Aviation was in 2020:
"Maj. Gen. Marrs also serves as the National Intelligence Manager for Aviation and also as the Executive Director, National Aviation Intelligence Integrative Office under the auspices of the Director of National Intelligence."
Maj. Gen. Marrs retired on 1 January 2020 so someone else, currently unknown is in the position at the moment.