The Defense Department's inspector general is launching its own investigation into what the military calls "unidentified aerial phenomena" -- better known as UFOs.
In an announcement Monday, the Office of Inspector General said that beginning this month, it will start evaluating "the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding unidentified aerial phenomena."
A memo posted online said the IG will conduct the evaluation at the office of the secretary of Defense, military services, combatant commands, combat support agencies, Defense agencies and military criminal investigative organizations.
Randolph Stone, assistant inspector general for evaluations for space, intelligence, engineering and oversight, said in that memo that the objective may be revised as the evaluation proceeds, and that more locations to be evaluated may be identified.
The IG's evaluation is now the latest inquiry into the potential existence of UFOs now underway in the Pentagon. The fiscal 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, which was passed in December as part of a massive omnibus COVID-19 relief bill, contained a provision that ordered intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to report to lawmakers what they know about unidentified aerial phenomena within six months.
The Pentagon last August also launched a Navy-led task force to track down any encounters service members may have had with aerial objects that could pose a threat to national security.
That move came a few months after the Pentagon officially acknowledged three incidents reported by Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilots involving possible UFO sightings. And the Pentagon also confirmed and officially released videos of the incidents, one from November 2004 and two from January 2015, which had been leaked to the public years ago.
But contrary to what The X-Files taught us, the story behind military encounters with unidentified flying objects may be more mundane than extraterrestrial visits to Earth. In April, the website The Drive published an investigation into aerial phenomena that concluded they are most likely drones or other unmanned aircraft, of varying levels of sophistication, that are spying on the U.S. military's capabilities.