Here's Why The US Military Recruited Official UFO Hunters

UFO hunters have been watching the skies in growing numbers since the Roswell incident in 1947, when rumors spread that a crash site in New Mexico — reported to be that of a U.S. Army air balloon — was, in fact, that of an extraterrestrial aircraft (via History). Since then, various sightings have reawakened a wave of public interest in UFOs, while the presence of aerial phenomena in popular culture arguably peaking in the 1990s, when the TV show "The X Files" became a worldwide smash and brought the idea of secret government agencies investigating classified occurrences into the mainstream. And interest in UFOs has only grown in the 21st century, thanks in part to the internet acting as a meeting place for like-minded enthusiasts and for the easy sharing of information (not all of it credible).

But in recent years, discourse around UFOs has reached fever pitch, thanks to a number of convincing videos of potential UFOs encountered by the U.S. military, as well as shocking reports that have outlined just how seriously the military is taking the threat. In 2017, The New York Times published a lengthy feature article exposing the presence of a secret Pentagon initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), first established in 2007, the activities of which remained widely classified. The article reported that the program was run by Luis Elizondo, a former counterintelligence special agent who had previously served in the U.S. Army in South Korea (via The Infographic Show).

The work of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program

The New York Times article, titled "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program," caused a stir because it conclusively showed that the U.S. military took UFO sightings seriously — and had done so for a long time. It claimed that the AATIP was initially established at the behest of Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who in 2007 was particularly prominent as the majority leader of the Senate, and that the program was awarded some $22 million over the course of its five-year existence, during which it investigated scores of UFO sightings from around the world.

Confirmation of the existence of the AATIP showed that the U.S. military's interest in UFOs was far from academic, while details emerging concerning the program's activities were highly pragmatic and related to concerns over national defense. As described by The Infographics Show, the military views UFOs as the presence of advanced military technology that far exceeds the capabilities of the current aircraft of the U.S. Air Force. As a result, the secondary function of the AATIP was to provide scientists with research funding into technologies emerging from the very edge of theoretical physics; research into dark matter, hyperdrives, and even interdimensional travel were all reportedly funded by the AATIP to explain the flight paths of UFOs — with the intention of integrating its findings into future U.S. military technology.