The Pentagon is launching a new group to focus on U.S. UFO sightings to replace a disbanded Navy task force, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The unit, reportedly modeled after the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI, will have a small team working around the clock to investigate reported sightings of unidentified flying objects to determine if something is happening or if it’s just a coincidence.
“They’re not scientists. They’re not engineers. They’re not scientists with a specific educational background in the area of UFOs,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told the Times. “They’re looking at it through the lens of … law enforcement.”
So far, the task force has reported some 9,000 cases of UFO sightings to the public and, according to Little, has made more than 2,000 contacts with military members who believe they may have seen an UFO.
One of the examples Little cited of a civilian who has made contacts with investigators relates to a false alarm from 2013 in Cheyenne, Wyo. An airplane pilot thought he had witnessed a “bright white flash” near another airplane as it flew the same path over his plane. After taking photos of the suspicious object and analyzing them, the pilot concluded the object was a fireball that had been in the same plane as the other one.
Now, the unit, which is being funded by the Office of Naval Research, will focus on having outside experts review the Navy reports it obtains and to determine if there are any common threads that can help hone in on a flying object theory.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a long-awaited study, concluding that the existence of extraterrestrial life is extremely unlikely. The study drew criticism from several lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who noted that “we already know who we are. We know what we are. We know where we came from. There’s been no evidence of extraterrestrial life.”
One of the leaders of the new Pentagon unit is Gregory Touhill, who has been working on this new mission for 10 years. Touhill told the Times, “I’m an emotional physicist. And I can’t help but get emotional when I think about some of the incidents that we’ve encountered.”