Written by by Carma Hassan, CNN
The Pentagon has launched a new investigation unit dedicated to examining sightings of UFOs, reports said.
The unit was announced by Defense Secretary James Mattis in a speech in San Diego on Thursday, The Intercept news site reported.
Mattis said the project would draw on multiple lines of research, from experts in space law to leading forensic psychologists.
“DoD’s unique attributes allow us to work around the world, undersea, in the air, on the ground, and at sea, effectively combating whatever challenges the future may bring,” he said.
“So in this we could be experts in space, special forces, counterterrorism, everything,” he said.
The move follows a series of unexplained sightings of aircraft and strange flying objects in the skies over the US.
From ocean to the sky
Unidentified aerial phenomena — better known as UFO sightings — have been a particularly persistent phenomenon in the US, with some hard-to-explain anomalies reportedly resembling UFOs.
A 2017 report by the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service said that the number of UFO investigations in the 2015 fiscal year increased from 2011 to 2017 — from 192 in 2011 to 574 in 2017.
In June 2017, former Obama administration officials announced they had no evidence to back up the existence of alien life.
UFOs have also been the subject of novel writing by authors ranging from best-selling writer Stephen King to astronaut Buzz Aldrin, with most of their ventures running from simple stories of unusual phenomena — to occasional more fantastical incidents.
Last October, a British black hole collided with a lorry on the M1, causing the two objects to merge into one giant metal ball — presumably a tail reminiscent of those seen in X-Men.
US military liaison
The US has previously attempted to explore UFOs, with a separate unit — formed in 2009 — searching for UFOs believed to be advanced military technology.
Mattis was formerly a US Army general and liaison officer to the French intelligence service during his tour of NATO duty, serving in the Balkans and India.
He served as Secretary of Defense for three years from December 22, 2017. He is the third previous US defense secretary to lead the Defense Department since 1990.