- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proposed a new UFO investigative effort: the "Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office," or ASRO.
- ASRO would be the highest-level U.S. government office to look into "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAPs).
- The office would place particular emphasis on investigating UAPs as a potential threat to the U.S. and whether they are controlled by hostile governments.
The U.S. government could soon have a brand-new bureau dedicated to investigating "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAP)—or what the rest of us refer to as UFOs.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proposed setting up the Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office (ASRO) within the defense and intelligence communities. If adopted, the office would collect data on UAPs, cooperate with allies mounting similar efforts, and brief lawmakers twice a year on their progress. In addition to UAPs, the effort would also investigate so-called "transmedium" object sightings, or UAPs that come and go from oceans.
Earlier this month, Sen. Gillibrand authored and submitted SA 4281 as an amendment to the Senate's version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, commonly known as the U.S. defense budget. Gillibrand's amendment is mirrored in the House of Representatives by a similar one authored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). Unless there's movement to have it removed, there's a pretty good chance that President Biden could sign it into law.
Nick Pope, an author who investigated UFOs for the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, tells Popular Mechanics that he welcomes Sen. Gillibrand's new amendment.
"The new processes would overshadow any previous investigative programs such as Project Blue Book, and would leverage the full resources and capabilities of the U.S. military and intelligence community in a way that hasn't been done before," he says. "The establishment of an advisory committee with a civilian component would bring unprecedented oversight and accountability. The UFO phenomenon isn't a partisan issue."
ASRO would assume the duties of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAP TF), a body of the Department of Defense created in 2020 to study the rash of unexplained UAP sightings from U.S. military personnel. That task force released a report in June 2021 that was largely inconclusive. While UAPs posed a "safety of flight" issue and "may pose a challenge to U.S. national security," per the report, "the limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP."
Additionally, ASRO would designate existing organizations—presumably the Office of Naval Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, and others—to perform field investigations of sightings on its behalf. It would also develop and establish procedures for reporting UAPs, coordinating with other federal agencies and departments including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA might seem like an odd choice at first. But it makes more sense when you consider that Gillibrand's amendment also directs an investigation into transmedium vehicles, or Unidentified Submarine Objects (USOs). In 2004, U.S. Navy aircrew flying F/A-18F Super Hornets not only witnessed a UFO-like craft, but also an underwater craft that one eyewitness described as being as large as a commercial jetliner—and somehow interacting with the UAP. There have been transmedium vehicle sightings for decades, though they've generally been folded in with the larger, more frequent aerial phenomena.
ASRO would create both unclassified and classified reports on its findings and brief members of Congress every six months. An advisory committee would draw members from NASA, the FAA, the National Academies of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and Harvard University's Galileo Project, which studies extraterrestrial technological signatures.
The new office would be particularly interested in "identification of potential aerospace or other threats posed by unidentified aerial phenomena to the national security of the United States," per Sen. Gillibrand's amendment. It would also place a priority on investigating UAPs "that can be attributed to one or more adversarial foreign government." Think: Russia or China.
ASRO will look into "efforts to capture or exploit discovered unidentified aerial phenomena" like the alleged discovery of a crashed UFO in Roswell, New Mexico in 1957. It will also probe sightings near locations involved in the "production, transportation, or storage of nuclear weapons." Such sightings have been reported for decades, and just last month, four Air Force veterans came forward about their own encounters with UFOs while on active duty working in and around nuclear weapons.
ASRO won't be a permanent organization if it comes to fruition; it would terminate exactly six years after its establishment. While the office will probably be effective at the surveillance part of its mission, how well it will address the "resolution" part remains to be seen.