The recent move by the US Department of Defence (DoD) to authenticate UFO videos released by the Navy as “unidentified” objects is a historic and unprecedented shift in messaging from the American military, according to Australian academic Adam Dodd.
On April 27, with the world focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pentagon released a statement confirming that videos first made public by the New York Times in 2017 were authentic US Navy videos and that “the aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterised as unidentified”.
In its statement, the Pentagon said a “thorough review” by DoD had concluded the release of these videos “does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems”.
In other words, the objects in the videos were not top secret US aircraft.
The admission represented a reversal of the US military’s longstanding denial that objects defying classification have been observed flying in its airspace.
The announcement was reported widely in the US media, but there has been no commentary on the shift in public position, nor questions asked about why DoD had felt it necessary to make the statement.
University of Queensland communications researcher Dr Adam Dodd said the statement by the DoD represented “a historically unprecedented shift”.
Dr Dodd conducted a research project into the politics of the UFO phenomena in cold war America and spent three years preparing an article that was published in the journal Astropolitics in 2018.
“The number one rule of government is, don’t admit to a problem you can’t offer a solution to,” Dr Dodd told me.
“But here, with the DoD public statement, they do seem to be admitting to a problem they can’t offer a solution to — except they’re saying this does not represent a threat to national security.”
University of Ohio political scientist Alexander Wendt said the DoD’s confirmation was the “first official release of unidentified UFO footage” by any government in the world.
“These are videos released by the Navy, and so I’m inclined to believe what I’m seeing,” Professor Wendt said.
“What’s striking is that the objects don’t behave like natural phenomena.
“One of the objects rotates as it’s flying against the wind, which is not normal — and the pilots are clearly under the impression that these objects are under intelligent control.”
Professor Wendt has long been critical of the scientific community’s treatment of UFO phenomena as “taboo” and unworthy of study.
“I defy anyone to watch those and come away thinking there’s nothing there worth investigating,” he said.
“Those pilots who spent thousands of hours in the sky, who are flying the most sophisticated machines in the entire world, are seeing something that they have never seen before and are completely blown away by it.”
Dr Dodd said he wanted to know what had motivated the DoD to change its public position.
“My reading is that it’s unlikely to have been a response to immense public pressure,” he said.
“So maybe we can at least say that the incentive has come from within the organisation, but we’re still left with that question of why.
“If I had to pick, I’d choose [to think] what we’re seeing now is decisions being made internally within the DoD to acquaint the public with that reality in a gradual way rather than a shocking way that dumps everything on the public in one hit, I think that would be too disruptive.
“Part of it might be the sort of obfuscation that COVID-19 has spread across the news cycle.
“For a topic that’s already historically marginalized, I think maybe it was a safe bet on the part of the DoD that this announcement, despite its historical significance, would end up being marginalized or obscured by what’s dominating the news cycle, which is COVID-19, Donald Trump and political instability.”
The US Navy’s UFO videos were first released to the media in 2017 by former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo.
Mr Elizondo now works for research and lobby group To The Stars Academy (TTSA), founded by Blink 182 frontman and UFO enthusiast Tom DeLonge.
TTSA released a statement welcoming the DoD’s move as “the first time in history the Department of Defence has officially acknowledged the existence of unidentified aerial phenomena”.
In the statement, Mr Elizondo said: “We commend the leadership at the Department of Defence for sharing the truth and TTSA is optimistic that they will continue to share more information transparently as it becomes publicly available.”