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Many were surprised to see that the House Armed Services Committee included a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (see §1652) requiring the Secretary of Defense to create a staff position to orchestrate UAP data collection and analysis. Is this a good idea? Should the Senate agree to this proposal and include it in the annual Defense Authorization bill submitted to the President?

At the outset it is important to applaud this initiative on the part of Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona. After all, aerospace vehicles of unknown origin and capability are violating restricted U.S. military airspace on a recurring basis. While the reporting may be subject to collection biases, these vehicles seem to be especially interested in the activities of U.S. Navy ships and carrier strike groups, U.S. nuclear facilities, and DoD test ranges. Some could be next-generation Chinese or Russian drones capable of eluding U.S. air defenses. Notably, an unsophisticated guerrilla force in Yemen recently used relatively primitive drones to incapacitate 50% of Saudi Arabia’s oil refining capabilities in 2019, so this is not a trivial matter. That successful attack was achieved despite the fact that the Saudis have spent billions deploying some of the world’s most sophisticated air defense systems. Clearly, the threat of small, unmanned aircraft with concentrated intelligence and firepower capabilities needs to be taken seriously. Congratulations to Rep. Gallego for recognizing the national security significance of the UAP issue.

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