The Department of Defense (DoD) has confirmed that the scientist currently leading its investigations into sightings of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) reported by military personnel will be retiring before the end of the year.

Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, who has led the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) since it was officially launched last July following enactment of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), has announced his plans to leave the position in December.

Kirkpatrick’s plans for departure, confirmed by Politico on Tuesday, were officially announced Wednesday morning in a statement issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, although speculations about his departure had already been in circulation beforehand.

“During his distinguished 27-year career of public service in the Department of Defense and the United States Intelligence Community, and since assuming leadership of AARO, Dr. Kirkpatrick has served the American people with honesty and integrity, tackling an incredibly difficult mission to explain the unknown,” Hicks said on Wednesday.

Hicks, who had taken a more active role in coordinating with Kirkpatrick and AARO in recent months, praised Kirkpatrick for his efforts with AARO, during which he and his staff “investigated more than 800 unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) cases, led an extensive search for U.S. Government and contractor programs associated with UAP, and established the department’s first public-facing website,” which helped “bring greater transparency to the department’s work.”

Just hours after Hicks confirmed Kirkpatrick’s plans to leave, the DoD announced that Timothy A. Phillips had been officially selected to serve as AARO’s Deputy Director.

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