Reporting UFOs to the Navy and Where To Go From Here?
Join the Navy they said, see a UFO they said.
With the recent story broken by Politco’s defense editor, Bryan Bender, the UFO community has clearly become very excited. With news that the American Navy is now “drafting new guidelines for pilots and other personnel to report encounters with ‘unidentified aircraft,’ many within the Ufological community view this as a big step towards the long-cherished goal of “Disclosure.”
As with any major announcement such as this, various other news sources have picked up the story, and there seems to be a flurry of commentary and speculation as to what this all means for the future of UFO discourse. Moreover, many within the community have also been quick to point out that the Navy “isn’t endorsing the idea that its sailors have encountered alien spacecraft.”
Red Pill Junkie, a regular contributor to The Daily Grail, pointed out in his article that this is really nothing incredibly new. The Air Force has been down this road before with various defunct projects, such as Blue Book. Moreover, he points out that the military does already have a method to collect information regarding unknown aerial vehicles via the JANAP 146 protocol. Red Pill Junkie’s conclusion is that this new project, which is still in its infancy, is just more of the “same old” stuff. On the flip side, Alejandro Rojas of Open Minds expressed that this is an important day for UFO discourse. In his article on Open Minds, he praised the recent work done by Tom DeLonge and Luis Elizondo of To The Stars fame by saying,
“Elizondo has said that if it where not for TTSA, he may not have made his involvement in the Pentagon UFO program public. It was Elizondo’s revelations that created the media fervor and subsequently brought attention to this topic. That means the efforts of rock star DeLonge, played a large part in today’s story.”
This new announcement by the Navy has raised a lot of questions, but more importantly, drawn a lot of lines in the subcultural sand. Moreover, it raises a key concern that I raised in October of 2017,
“Due to the very democratic, if not anarchic, nature of the UFO community (in that no one person or organization is UFOlogy), DeLonge’s ability to shift the discourse is threatening. Similar to how Donald Keyhoe and others in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s galvanized the extraterrestrial hypothesis into UFO discourse and popular culture, so too may DeLonge’s particular hypothesis regarding UFOs become how the mainstream interprets the whole of UFOlogy.”
I don’t want to take sides here. That is pointless. Rather, I wish to express that nearly two years later, the ideological frameworks established by To the Stars, Luis Elizondo and the rest of the crew, has clearly been responsible for the cultural shifts we now see in contemporary UFO discourse, especially in the popular and mainstream interpretation of modern UFOs. To use a film and television term, the very interested public outside of the UFO community, and many within the community, are taking ideological “beats” from the TTSA and the small collective of people who form the moving parts inside it.
The UFO discourse, regardless of what “side” you have chosen, is being greatly influenced by this band of “insiders.” Trying to argue as to whether this is good or bad is pointless. Proclaiming that one is on “Team TTSA” or “Anti-TTSA” is pretty much meaningless at this point. When it comes to cultural paradigms, especially within subcultural movements, patterns and ideas form whether people like it or not. Spitting bile at Elizondo or TTSA really serves no purpose, nor does massaging their egos.
What we really need to understand is that the Navy will now hold significantly more authority over UFO data from its personnel (it undoubtedly already does). While this move by the Navy is being heralded by some as another step towards “Disclosure,” the obvious problem is that UFO reports made to the military in no way equate to transparency. To think that the Navy will release its new UFO reports to the public is, in a word, idiotic. UFO reports, especially those made by military personnel, will disappear into the ether. This whole new system is in direct opposition to transparency and “Disclosure.” Moreover, the storm of speculation and media attention given to the 2004 Nimitz incident has, especially for those who manage information within military channels, showed a big open hole in how managed information can become loosed upon the public and cause headaches for individuals in government and the military. In other words, an unknown UFO incident with good witness testimony and video footage remained in the shadows for nearly two decades only to become incredibly famous because ex-military and government personnel began work to bring this information out. If it is your job to manage that information, perhaps this new reporting system is a great way to plug that information hole. Nothing keeps people quiet like a ‘non-disclosure agreement’ and the threat of litigation or jail time.
“Want to report a UFO to the Navy? Sure sailor, just sign these legal forms for us real quick.”
There is a lot of nuance within UFO discourse. There is a long history of facts, misinformation and disinformation. There are real objective truths and there are myths. For those of us inside this community who have done our homework, we know that nothing ought to be taken at face value. Mainstream media outlets are incredibly valuable, but they also are there to generate views and “clicks.” The Navy wants its personnel to be safe, and is responsible for the security of a nation, but it also knows that information, no matter what it is, is the most valuable commodity. Ufological history has shown us repeatedly that trust is not earned easily, as it is all too commonly broken in this community. The various agents who work for or represent To the Stars know this all too well.
To the mainstream public who are usually oblivious to the very nuanced history and culture of this community are not armed to defend themselves against this reality. The messaging presented regarding UFOs will be interpreted in a whole host of ways by the general public, however, there is little doubt in my mind that this recent announcement by the Navy was influenced by our friends at To the Stars. The inner-dealings of various groups within the UFO community are affecting the ideological understanding and meanings of what the UFO is as a social and cultural construct. In other words, UFOs are what we mean them to be. The media plays a vital role in developing that meaning, and To the Stars holds a lot of cultural and political cache in those media outlets. I am not crying conspiracy, as that is just plain silly. Rather, TTSA, most likely unknowingly (maybe), is holding the reigns when it comes to our future ideological understanding of how we, and future members of this community, will interpret the UFO phenomenon in the days to come. They hold and wield significant power, and drawing Ufological ‘bi-partisan’ lines, and trying to sort out and shame who is “for” or “against” TTSA is a waste of time. Instead of being vigilant of who plays for what team, we ought to turn that vigilance to those who currently control the message.
I am reminded of an old curse, allegedly from Ancient China, that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” For some, those times are here. For others, this is a road they have seen before. For me, personally, I’m just excited to see what is going to happen next.
- MJ Banias