The $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a provision establishing a new office and task force called the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, or AOIMSG, to study Unidentified Aerial Phenomena – colloquially known as Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs – United States Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), who sponsored the amendment along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), announced on Thursday.

It is by far the most comprehensive UFO-related legislation proposed by Congress since Project Blue Book in the 1950s.

Amazingly, lawmakers appear to be developing a deepening interest in the subject, which for decades has been relegated to the sidelines of quacks, skeptics and conspiracy theories about coverups.

“We need a meaningful collection strategy and innovative and iterative analysis to support it,” former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon, a prominent UFO researcher, wrote in an email to Nextgov.

“The significance is the inclusion of both. Some objects have been observed moving into and out of the ocean (a liquid) and into the atmosphere (a gas) seemingly unencumbered by traditional Newtonian physics and aerodynamic pressures,” Mellon wrote. “Some of these same objects may also be able to operate in the vacuum of space, clearly impossible for conventional air-breathing means of propulsion.”

Even more incredible is that the NDAA does not rule out the possibility that UAPs could be of extraterrestrial origin.

“Unidentified aerial phenomena’ means—(A) airborne objects that are not immediately identifiable; (B) transmedium objects or devices; and (C) submerged objects or devices that are not immediately identifiable and that display behavior or performance characteristics suggesting that the objects or devices may be related to the objects,” the amendment states along with a call for “an assessment of any health-related effects for individuals that have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Over the last several years, declassified reports, testimony, and visual evidence of unknown craft permeating American skies have emerged. In 2017, the Pentagon released multiple recordings of Navy officers tracking and chasing several objects that performed maneuvers that seemingly defy the laws of physics. The mysterious crafts, called Tic-Tacs due to their slender shapes, were captured on radar ascending and descending over the ocean at impossible speeds while engaging military jet fighters. And, as has become a hallmark of UFOs’ apparent intelligently-controlled behavior, the objects eventually zoomed off into the distance, accelerating from zero to thousands of miles per hour instantaneously.

More generally, sightings have been on the rise all over the world since the UFO craze began in the wake of the infamous Roswell, New Mexico incident in 1947. Millions of people from all walks of life have reported encounters with these strange vehicles.

What concerns lawmakers, however, is the attention that UAPs have been paying to nuclear weapons storage facilities. As far back as the 1960s, eyewitness reports have detailed unusual goings-on that accompanied the presence of unexplainable aircraft, such as disruptions to communications and the powering down of atomic missiles, while they were hovering over top-secret installations

Many within the federal government have concerns about threats to national security, although UAPs have never caused any real harm. Plus, even our best technology is no match for whatever – or whoever – is buzzing around.

“Our national security efforts rely on aerial supremacy and these phenomena present a challenge to our dominance over the air. Staying ahead of UAP sightings is critical to keeping our strategic edge and keeping our nation safe. The United States needs a coordinated effort to take control and understand whether these aerial phenomena belong to a foreign government or something else altogether,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“Protecting our national security interests means knowing who and what are flying in U.S. airspace,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement to Military.com. “Right now, our system of tracking and identifying UAPs is scattered throughout the Department of Defense and other departments and agencies of the federal government.”

Mellon, meanwhile, said that public fascination with the topic should implore the House and Senate to pursue the matter.

“DOD has conducted field investigations since Roswell in 1947,” he said. “Obviously a lot of people would be upset [if the NDAA passed without this provision]. There’s a considerable number of people who are conspiracy-prone in the UFO community, who follow the topic. So, they’re already inclined to believe in widespread conspiracies and government cover-ups—and that’s only going to fuel that. And it would be really disheartening, especially at a time when there is this kind of lack of trust and faith in government.”

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