US Defense Department is adding another sub-unit to a team of UFO investigators to evaluate UFO sightings and consult with government researchers and experts, US secretary of defense James Mattis announced.
There are currently only two groups within the Pentagon looking into UFO reports: a reconnaissance team that was created following an incident in 1999, and a Civilian AVIATORS Unit, which is located on the campus of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
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“The operational support to the Aviation Partnership Initiative (API) will be provided by the Department of the Navy’s Civilian Aerial Vehicle Investigators (CAVINS) Division. The Aerospace Partnership Initiative (API) will foster critical interagency communication and collaboration on the matters of detection, tracking, identification, detection and tracking of unidentified aerial phenomena,” the secretary of defense said in a statement released on Monday.
The Pentagon has been keeping close tabs on UFO sightings for decades. There are vague laws that regulate what they can say, but most revelations come from agency officials anonymously commenting to the press and in classified memos.
Mattis has not yet commented on the additions to his team, which were reported by the Los Angeles Times, and had previously been discussed by the newspaper in September.
A reading room for unidentified flying objects in the National Air and Space Museum. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
In 2014, the Pentagon approved a request from then-US senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to covertly improve upon and expand its presence in the field of UFO research.
Reid told NBC News that the Pentagon team included former Marines, navy captains and top personnel at the NSA.
“It’s been in the works for a while and is totally secure,” Reid said in 2014. “We’re just covering our bases because they don’t want people to know.”