Over the past number of months, declassified evidence of UFO encounters involving military personnel have been released by the Defense Department and the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, in the form of gun-camera videos from fighter aircraft of airborne objects that exhibited performance capabilities that far exceeded what our current technology is capable of. These videos chronicled three separate incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2015, but according to former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon there have been at least a dozen such incidents that have been confirmed to have occurred since then. In a recent Washington Post Outlook article, Mellon describes the puzzling state of the US government’s response to the UFO phenomenon from the point of view of both an insider and private contractor — and why the lack of a coherent response on the part of the government could be dangerous.

Christopher Mellon served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and is currently an advisor to the To the Stars Academy for Arts and Science. According to his article, Mellon started investigating the issue of UFOs after the 2004 incident involving an intercept by F/A-18s from the USS Nimitz was brought to his attention. During his run as an intelligence official, he has had numerous meetings with senior Pentagon officials on the subject, and since entering the private sector he has continued to meet with military personnel that have had encounters with UFOs. But despite the sheer number of encounters being reported by the military, Mellon found that there is no coordinated effort to investigate the phenomenon, with each case being treated as an isolated incident. He found that this lack of an overall plan is due to the cultural attitude toward UFOs within the military and intelligence communities, in that "nobody wants to be “the alien guy” in the national security bureaucracy; nobody wants to be ridiculed or sidelined for drawing attention to the issue. This is true up and down the chain of command, and it is a serious and recurring impediment to progress."

And the UFO issue, according to Mellon, is indeed one of national security, the priority of which should be considered paramount: in the unlikely event that these objects represent major technological leaps forward by China or Russia, that means that the US is lagging far behind its traditional adversaries; "Or, if these craft really aren’t from Earth, then the need to figure out what they are is even more urgent," Mellon warns.

Needless to say, funding such a coordinated endeavor is not an issue, given the massive amount of money allocated to our military and intelligence establishments; rather, Mellon says that the culture of our officials living with their heads in the sand regarding UFOs needs to end, and that "it is time to set aside taboos regarding “UFOs” and instead listen to our pilots and radar operators." Toward that end, he also recommends that "the task needs to be assigned to an official with the clout to compel collaboration among disparate and often quarrelsome national security bureaucracies," making use of information gathered from "infrared satellite data, NORAD radar databases, and signals and human intelligence reporting."

"Congress should require an all-source study by the secretary of defense while promoting research into new forms of propulsion that might explain how these vehicles achieve such extraordinary power and maneuverability."

Mellon points out that there is a puzzling disparity between the US government’s treatment of the UFO phenomenon and its response to other events throughout history, such as the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957: the revelation that Soviet technology was ahead of that of the United States’ sparked the space race, that reached a crescendo with the first lunar landing a mere 12 years later. But aside from comparatively modest research projects such as the now-defunct Pentagon intelligence program formerly run by Luis Elizondo, and private contracts like the one awarded to Bigelow Aerospace, the awareness of such a dramatic technological disparity represented by the UFO phenomenon appears to have remained unaddressed for the last half century.

But where does this head-in-the-sand attitude truly stem from? The established culture of ridicule and denial regarding UFOs? The potential inability of the military to protect our skies and bedrooms from unknown intruders? Regardless of the root cause, Mellon warns that the issue of national security is not the only concern, but the potential loss of a valuable opportunity to glean game-changing insights from studying the UFO phenomenon.

"As with Sputnik, the national security implications of these incidents are concerning — but the scientific opportunities are thrilling," Mellon concludes. "Who knows what perils we may avoid or opportunities we might identify if we follow the data? We cannot afford to avert our eyes, given the risk of strategic surprise.

"The future belongs to not only the physically brave but also the intellectually agile." 

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