Congress held the first hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in over 50 years on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald Moultrie, left, and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray testified on behalf of the Pentagon. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Tuesday morning, May 17, lawmakers attended the first congressional hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs, in more than 50 years in the veterans’ affairs hearing room on Capitol Hill. During the publicly broadcast session, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray answered questions about the reporting process, transparency with the public, and the new parameters for identifying and reporting on UAP experiences.
The congressional grilling, led by Indiana Rep. Andre Carson, questioned Moultrie and Bray on the future of the UAP Task Force — now going by the name Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, or AOIMSG. The pair were asked a broad range of questions for an hour and a half.
Moultrie and Bray, often tag-teaming the answers, saved several responses for the closed-door session hearing later in the day, which will discuss classified programs used for data collection and information.
Moultrie defended the Department of Defense’s hesitancy to speak openly on certain topics, citing the imperative of protecting sources and methods of collection. He explained that protecting how the US collects intelligence for UAP analysis is paramount, as it is the same process by which the US collects intelligence on adversaries.
Bray and Moultrie indicated the future of UAP analysis will be strongly data driven, relying on the accuracy of the analytical instruments, such as wind speed, barometric readings, and radar, to provide a baseline for interpreting evidence. The men indicated several partnerships with researchers and analysts to help investigate incidents, including NASA and Space Force, as well as allies and organizations abroad.
Moultrie and Bray also doubled down on the DOD’s intention to remove the stigma associated with reporting UAP incidents within aviation communities.
“Our goal is to eliminate the stigma by fully incorporating our operators and mission personnel into a standardized data gathering process,” Moultrie read from a prepared statement in his opening remarks. “We believe that making UAP reporting a mission imperative will be instrumental to the effort’s success.”
As described in the UAP report issued in June 2021, the UAPTF has five main categories for organizing UAP activity: “airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, USG or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall ‘other’ bin.” Congressional questions quickly zeroed in on the “other” bin.
Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes asked Moultrie and Bray to define “unknown,” using the scale parameters of “a visual observation that was distant on a foggy night and we don’t know what it is,” to illustrate the low end, and changed his voice to a sinister register to illustrate the extreme end as “we’ve found an organic material that we can’t identify.”
Bray answered the congressman with “We simply don’t know,” reiterating that several incidents do not have enough data to compile an accurate analysis. Bray admitted the Nimitz incident — in which “Tic Tac”-shaped unidentified objects flew close to the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz — is still unresolved.
Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher asked about other unresolved incidents from further in the past, providing the examples of Project Blue Book and the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP; Bray and Moultrie indicated no other official programs existed within the DOD. However, Gallagher introduced the Wilson Memo, a previously leaked document from 2002, into the Congressional Record.
Rep. Gallagher pressed DoD officials on UAPs in the first public hearing on the topic in nearly 50 years.
Watch his full line of questioning below. pic.twitter.com/CzWYtHNvZ7
— Rep. Gallagher Press Office (@RepGallagher) May 17, 2022
“I can’t speak to its veracity, I was hoping you could help me with that,” Gallagher said, before asking Bray and Moultrie to look into the memo.
The duo continued to answer questions, unless the discussion strayed into classified territory. Anything related to underwater detection, as well as collaboration with allies and knowledge of adversary systems, was quickly deferred to the closed-door session.
Lauren Coontz is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. Beaches are preferred, but Lauren calls the Rocky Mountains of Utah home. You can usually find her in an art museum, at an archaeology site, or checking out local nightlife like drag shows and cocktail bars (gin is key). A student of history, Lauren is an Army veteran who worked all over the world and loves to travel to see the old stuff the history books only give a sentence to. She likes medium roast coffee and sometimes, like a sinner, adds sweet cream to it.
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