WASHINGTON — In a memorandum this week, the Inspector General for the Department of Defense informed a list of offices that an investigation into the Pentagon's actions related to "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" would begin this month.
In April, the Pentagon confirmed that leaked photos and video taken in 2019 of UFOs, which the military refers to as "unidentified aerial phenomena," were authentic.
At the time, the Department of Defense hinted at an investigation of the images, which were taken by Navy personnel, but didn't elaborate further on the scope of any evaluation into how serious any findings were.
In a memo this week signed by Randolph Stone, the Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations for Space and Intelligence, several offices within the Department of Defense were notified that they would be investigated by the government watchdog.
Offices including that of the Secretary of Defense, Combat Commands, Military Criminal Investigation Organizations and Defense Agencies were named in the memo as being part of the apparent comprehensive investigation. Memo recipients were told they have five days from the time that they were notified on Monday to get details over to the Inspector General's office for points of contact.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon, Sue Gough, told CNN in a statement, "as we have said before, to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP."
In a 2017 New York Times article, the details of a $22 million UFO program were laid out, and found that little was known of the effort to keep tabs on reports of unidentified flying objects. The Defense Department had reportedly never actually acknowledged the program's existence and details on the once-covert mission were buried deep in yearly $600 billion Defense Department budgets.
That was until last year when it was discovered that the program had been disbanded and was now under a new name and slipped quietly into the Office of Naval Intelligence where operations to study Unidentified Aerial Phenomena continued under the radar, the Times reported.
At the time, as the Senate mulled over spending by U.S. intelligence agencies for 2020, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who led the probe, expressed particular concern regarding UFOs appearing over American military bases.
In Monday's memo, the Department of Defense IG said additional departments could be identified in their investigation.
In Aug. 2020, the DOD released a statement in which it said, "The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report."
A stipulation in the "committee comment" portion of the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2021 fiscal year directed U.S. intelligence agencies to hand over unclassified reports about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena to Congress by June of this year.