- There have been extremely high level briefings on UAP with the Department of Defense, to include the Secretary of the Navy
- It appears that information regarding UAP incidents is circulating very widely within the intelligence community
- There have been several recent incidents that produced MASINT sensor data, in addition to images
- There is an emerging focus on the "transmedium" aspect of some incidents where unidentified objects appear to travel freely between the atmosphere and the ocean
- McMillan provides analysis from retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Bruce McClintock that further downgrades the likelihood of these objects being some kind of secretive U.S. testing
Having recently completed a retrospective analysis of government study of UAP, McMillan's reporting strikes me as something of a breakthrough moment. Previously, the government study of UAP encountered serious problems accessing the senior leadership of the Pentagon. Former director of AATIP Luis Elizondo told me in an interview that he and his team had difficulty verifying that they were the only program looking at the matter. They were also never able to directly brief the Secretary of Defense.
This reporting indicates that several important logjams have been broken. Senior leadership within the military and within Congress are receiving briefings. Information is now circulating widely beyond just a small group. Data is being collected and shared on this in a way that is likely to lead to more attention and analysis.
What we're learning also comports with decades of what we know from other government efforts to look at this issue: there appears to be an important nexus with underwater incidents involving unidentified submersible objects (USO). The Soviet and Russian study of these issues also had an important focus on USOs.
Tim McMillan also includes two key quotes from retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Bruce McClintock. On the possibility that these are secret US tests:
It is unlikely that the U.S. government would intentionally conduct tests against its own unwitting military assets,” he told The Debrief in an interview. “To do so would require a very high level of coordination and approval for the potential safety and operational security risks.
On the possibility that these are tests of a foreign competitor:
It is not outside the realm of the plausible that an adversary would test the ability of the United States to detect some new capability, although it would be more likely they would only do this after testing the capability within or closer to their own territory before trying to penetrate U.S. airspace
It is also worth repeating that it is unlikely that intelligence community would widely circulate analysis without first verifying that these objects are not US secret programs.
In sum, here is how I see the implications:
- This issue is starting to be taken more seriously and is starting to involve a much wider group of people within government
- The stigma around briefing senior leadership appears to be eroding, based on McMillan's reporting
- The idea that the most significant sightings stem from secret US tests is weakening
- This is clearly a truly "joint" issue between the Navy and the Air Force. It makes sense for Office of Naval Intelligence to lead, given the emerging importance of USOs
- The combination of mounting data and increased confidence that these are not US platforms should dramatically increase the level of interest and seriousness in investigating these sightings. This is a high priority national defense issue.
What should happen next? There are a number of things that should be on the agenda:
- Journalists and researchers need to continue to ask questions of Congress and the incoming Biden administration to ensure that there is pressure to form a robust and coherent response to these findings
- We need increased focus on the truly "joint" Navy, Air Force and Space Force aspect of this issue. That includes thinking through all the usual issues that come up around "purple suit" problems
- Eventually, a public discussion will be needed on whether this effort should ultimately be located in a military or civilian body
- We need to be alert to the possibility that over-classification and inter-branch communication may be a material issue. This is a good time to review Executive Order 13526 and see if any changes need to be made to underlying secrecy policy
- We know from former officials involved in these programs that there is not much bandwidth for historical research. The research community interested in this topic can help by redoubling its efforts to do grounded, evidence based research on the underappreciated naval aspect of this phenomena. For instance, we know there is an existing Soviet literature on USOs that has not received much attention in the West.
In short, McMillan's article points to indications of genuine progress. It also implicitly lays out an agenda for those interested in making an impact on this story.