EXIT INTERVIEW: Army Gen. Mark A. Milley has had a momentous — and at times polarizing — four-year run as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Trump and Biden. In the first of a series of articles ahead of the scheduled end of his tenure in October, Gen. Milley sat down with senior Washington Times military correspondent Ben Wolfgang to discuss some of the achievements and controversies of his time as the Pentagon’s highest-ranking military officer.
Some UFO sightings by military personnel are “difficult to explain,” said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the nation’s top general insists he has seen no evidence to back up public allegations that the Pentagon has recovered extraterrestrial beings or has engaged in decades of cover-ups to hide the truth from the American public.
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Times, Gen. Milley acknowledged that some reports of what the government now calls unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, lack easy explanations despite serious, ongoing research inside the Pentagon and a growing belief that at least some of the craft could pose national security threats. He made the comments less than two weeks after former U.S. intelligence officer David Grusch told Congress under oath that he is aware of “a multidecade UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program” and even suggested that the Pentagon has been secretly keeping extraterrestrial bodies in storage.
Gen. Milley didn’t address the credibility of Mr. Grusch’s testimony but made clear he has seen no evidence backing up the extraordinary claims.
“The guy was under oath. I’m sure that he was trying to say whatever he thought was true. … I’m not going to doubt his testimony or anything like that,” Gen. Milley told The Times during a wide-ranging interview in his Pentagon office on Friday. “I can tell you, though, that as the chairman, I have been briefed on several different occasions by the [Pentagon’s] UAP office. And I have not seen anything that indicates to me about quote-unquote ‘aliens’ or that there’s some sort of cover-up program. I just haven’t seen it.”
Gen. Milley’s remarks about UAP sightings highlight the changing public attitude toward the phenomena in recent years. Previously dismissed in some quarters as nonsense straight out of a bad science fiction novel, UFO encounters now are legitimate topics of discussion inside the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, in the media and in the scientific community.
The government acknowledges that many such sightings cannot be explained. A federal government report released in January examined 366 UFO sightings, including a stunning 247 UAP incidents from March 2021 to August 2022. Of those, 171 lacked any clear explanation.
“There is a lot of unexplained aerial phenomena out there. That’s true,” Gen. Milley said. “And they’ve got pilot reports, there’s various other sensors out there, and some of it is difficult to explain.
“Most of it, actually, they can explain away by a variety of things, like balloons, for example. The whole Chinese balloon thing comes to mind,” said Gen. Milley, referring to a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the U.S. earlier this year. Such objects, including weather balloons, account for at least some of the reported UFO sightings.
“They can explain a lot of it, but there is some that’s really kind of weird and unexplainable,” Gen. Milley said. “But I’ve seen nothing to suggest that we, the United States military or the United States government, has in fact recovered any sort of vehicle that is not man-made or made here on Earth, or that there’s any kind of remains. … I haven’t seen any of that kind of stuff.”
Still, Gen. Milley said, he would not “second-guess” Mr. Grusch’s public testimony before a House Oversight and Accountability Committee panel on July 26. He said “a lot of people have different perspectives” on various issues in an organization as large as the Defense Department.
Other Pentagon officials have taken much more critical stances on Mr. Grusch’s allegations, which some House lawmakers appeared to take literally.
Sean Kirkpatrick, head of the Pentagon’s all-domain anomaly resolution office, said the claims were “insulting” to the personnel working on the issue.
“I cannot let yesterday’s hearing pass without sharing how insulting it was to the officers of the Department of Defense and intelligence community who chose to join AARO, many with not unreasonable anxieties about the career risks this would entail,” he said in a letter published online several days after the hearing.
“They are truth-seekers, as am I,” he said. “But you certainly would not get that impression from yesterday’s hearing.”
The Pentagon said Mr. Kirkpatrick made the comments in his personal capacity, not as an official statement of Defense Department policy.
The remarks reflected a belief in some circles that the House hearing may have done more harm than good by introducing alien bodies, reverse-engineering of spaceships and other seemingly wild ideas into the public discussion of UAP, rather than keeping the focus solely on legitimate claims of mysterious, unexplained objects in the sky.
Mr. Grusch made the allegations thoughtfully while under oath before Congress and while on national television. A former national reconnaissance officer representative with the Pentagon’s UAP task force, Mr. Grusch told lawmakers that he learned about government efforts to retrieve parts of crashed UFOs and study their technological makeup.
“I was informed, in the course of my official duties, of a multidecade UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program to which I was denied access to those additional” materials about the effort, he said.
Mr. Grusch also testified that the U.S. has recovered non-human “biologics.” He said he had not personally seen them but learned of their existence from “people with direct knowledge of the program.”
• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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