April 19. 2023 Hearing of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Responsibilities include policies and programs related to science and technology,
special operations, intelligence, counterterrorism, security cooperation, strategic and information operations,
countering weapons of mass destruction, and homeland defense.
Oversight of budget accounts: Army and Air Force research, development, test, and
evaluation (RDT&E) and procurement (less technology base, space, cyber, nuclear weapons, special
operations, and ammunition).
Oversight of DOD offices: Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Under
Secretary of Defense (Intelligence); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense and Global
Security); and Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict).
Oversight of DOD commands and agencies: U.S. Special Operations Command; Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency; Defense Security Cooperation Agency; National Security Agency;
Defense Intelligence Agency; National Reconnaissance Office; and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chair
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA),Ranking Member
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC)
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security – OUSDINS
DNI – Director of National Intelligence
IC – Intelligence Community
HAB – High Altitude Balloon
PRESENT IN HEARING
[SK] Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chair
[JE] Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ranking Member
[JR] Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
[SK] Dr. Sean M. Kirkpatrick. Director, All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO)
[KG] [truncated/inaudible] 0:00 … eyewitness Dr Sean Kirkpatrick for testifying here and in today's earlier closed session and for his long and 0:05 distinguished career both in the intelligence community and in the Department of Defense Dr Kirkpatrick is 0:11 the director of the all domain anomaly resolution office or AARO. Congress established this office in law to get to 0:18 the bottom of the very serious problem of unidentified anomalous phenomenon or UAP. Dr Kirkpatrick has a very difficult 0:25 mission. While we have made progress, there remains a stigma attached to these phenomenon; there is a vast and complex 0:31 citizen engagement and there's also very challenging scientific and technical hurdles so we appreciate the willingness 0:38 of Dr Kirkpatrick to lean in on this issue and the work that he has accomplished thus far and we look 0:44 forward to both his opening statement and his presentation of examples of the work AARO has done. In late 2017 media 0:51 reports surfaced about activity set in motion by the late long-serving Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid. More than a 0:57 decade ago we learned that there was strong evidence advanced technology reflected in the features and performance characteristics of many 1:04 objects observed by our highly trained service members operating top of the line military equipment. 1:10 We learned that for the at least the past eight years military pilots frequently encountered unknown objects 1:16 in controlled airspace off both the east and west coast across the continental United States in test and training areas 1:23 and ranges. We don't know where they come from, who made them, or how they operate. As former deputy secretary of 1:30 defense David norquist observed, had any of these objects had the label Made in China, there would be an uproar in the 1:35 government and media. There would be no stone unturned and no efforts spared to find out what we were dealing with. We 1:41 can look at the recent incursion of the unidentified PRC high altitude balloon, as an example. 1:46 But because of the UFO stigma the response has been irresponsibly anemic and slow. Congress 1:53 established AARO; we made it clear that we expect vigorous action. We added very substantial initial funding for the 1:59 office but despite our best efforts, the president's budget for fiscal years 23 and 24 requested only enough funding to 2:06 defray the operating expenses of AARO. It included almost no funds to sustain the critical research and development 2:11 necessary to support a serious investigation. It took a letter to secretary Austin from Senator Rubio and 2:16 me and 14 other Senators to get the office temporary relief for the current fiscal year. In this hearing I intend to 2:22 probe a series of specific issues. In the recent incidents where multiple objects were shot down over North America, it 2:28 seemed that Pentagon leadership did not turn to AARO office to play a leading role in advising the combatant commander. 2:34 We need to know whether this will continue. We need to know whether the leadership and DOD will bring AARO into the decision-making process in a visible 2:41 way and we need to know what role AARO will play in inter-agency coordination after the NSC working group disbands. 2:47 In the fiscal year 2023 National Defense and Intelligence Authorization acts, Congress established a direct reporting 2:53 chain from the AARO director to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The role of the office of the Undersecretary of 2:59 Defense for Intelligence and Security is limited to providing administrative support. We need to know how this 3:04 direction is being implemented. UAP are frequently observed flying in extremely high or very low speeds and 3:11 come in various sizes and shapes. During the recent shootdowns over North America, DOD disclosed that filters on 3:17 radar systems were adjusted to allow for detection and tracking of diverse sets of objects for the first time. While 3:23 opening the aperture can overload the real-time analytic process, we cannot keep turning a blind eye to surveillance 3:29 data that is critical to detecting attracting UAPs. We need to know whether Dr Kirkpatrick could achieve the 3:34 necessary control over sensor filters and the storage and access to raw surveillance data to find UAP anomalies. 3:40 Finally, one of the tasks Congress set for AARO is serving as an open door for witnesses of UAP events or participants 3:47 in government activities related to UAPs to come forward securely and disclose what they know without fear of 3:53 retribution for any possible violations of previously signed non-disclosure agreements. Congress mandated that AARO 4:00 set up a publicly discoverable and accessible process for safe disclosure. While we know that AARO has already 4:05 conducted a significant in a number of interviews, many referred by Congress, we need to set up a public process that 4:11 and we need to know where that effort stands. With that, I'd like to turn to Senator Ernst for her opening 4:17 statement. [JE] JE Thank you madam chair and thank you Dr Kirkpatrick for your testimony today. I'll keep these remarks 4:23 very brief so that we have maximum time for your briefing. The recent Downing of 4:28 the Chinese surveillance surveillance balloon and three other objects underscores the need for domain 4:34 awareness. Adversaries like China and Russia are working to hold U.S interests 4:39 including our homeland at risk. That's why your testimony is so important and I 4:45 so look forward to a progress update on the establishment of your office. As members know your office evolved from 4:52 the navy-led unidentified aerial phenomena task force to the all-domain anomalous resolution office known as 4:59 AARO. Dr Kirkpatrick, your extensive background in science and technology, 5:05 research and development, and space, makes you well suited to discuss these emerging 5:11 challenges. My priority is that we understand the full range of threats posed by our adversaries in all domains. 5:19 That is what the Joint Force needs to be prepared to fight and win in defense of 5:24 our nation. This committee needs to know about Chinese or Russian advanced technology programs to exploit our 5:31 vulnerabilities. And it needs to know whether your office along with the IC has detected potential Chinese or 5:38 Russian capabilities to surveil or attack us. Finally we need to ensure 5:43 efficient interagency coordination. Multiple elements of the dod and IC own 5:50 a piece of this mission. To add value AAROs efforts cannot be redundant with 5:56 others. Thank you again we look forward to your testimony. [KG] Dr Kirkpatrick, you can give your 6:03 testimony [SK] Thank you chairwoman Gillibrand, ranking member Ernst, distinguished members of 6:10 the subcommittee. It's a privilege to be here today to testify on the Defense's efforts 6:16 to address unidentified anomalous phenomena. First I want to thank Congress for its extensive and continued partnership as 6:22 the department works to better understand and respond to UAP in an effort to minimize technical and 6:28 intelligence surprise. Unidentified objects in any domain pose potential risks to safety and security, 6:34 particularly from military personnel and capabilities. Congress and DOD agree that UAP cannot 6:41 remain unexamined or unaddressed. We are grateful for sustained Congressional engagement on this issue 6:48 which paved the way for the DoD’s establishment of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office in July of last year. 6:55 Though AARO is still a young office, the spotlight on UAP in recent months 7:00 underscores the importance of its work and the need for UAP to be taken seriously as a matter of national 7:06 security. All leadership that I've had the pleasure of working with, whether DOD, IC, 7:12 DOE, civil, scientific, or industrial, view Congress as a critical partner in this 7:17 endeavor. AARO has accomplished much in the last nine months since it was established. The 7:23 AARO team of more than three dozen experts is organized around four functional areas: operations, scientific 7:30 research, integrated analysis, and strategic communications. In the nine months since AAROs 7:36 establishment, we've taken important steps to involve and improve UAP data 7:42 collection, standardize the department's UAP internal reporting requirements, and 7:47 implement a framework for rigorous scientific and intelligence analysis allowing us to resolve cases in a 7:54 systematic and prioritized manner. Meanwhile, consistent with legislative direction, AARO is also carefully 8:01 reviewing and researching the U.S government's UAP related historical record. 8:06 AARO is leading a focused effort to better characterize understand and attribute UAP, 8:12 with priority given to UAP reports by DoD and IC personnel in or near areas of 8:18 National Security importance. DoD fully appreciates the eagerness from many 8:23 quarters, especially here in Congress and in the American public, to quickly resolve every UAP encountered across the 8:30 globe from the distant past through today. It's important to note, however, 8:35 AARO is the culmination of decades of DoD intelligence community and congressionally directed efforts to 8:41 successfully resolve UAP encountered first and foremost by U.S military personnel, specifically Navy and Air 8:48 Force pilots. The law establishing AARO is ambitious and it will take time to realize the 8:55 full mission. We cannot answer decades of questions about UAP all at once but we 9:01 must begin somewhere. While I assure you that AARO will follow scientific evidence wherever it leads, I ask for 9:07 your patience as DoD first prioritizes safety and security of our military personnel and installations in all 9:14 domains.After all, a UAP encountered first by highly capable DoD and IC platforms 9:20 featuring the nation's most advanced sensors are those UAP most likely to be 9:25 resolved by my office, assuming the data can be collected. If AARO succeeds in first improving the 9:32 ability of military personnel to quickly and confidently resolve UAP they encounter, I believe that in time we will 9:39 have greatly advanced the capability of the entire United States government, including its civilian agencies to 9:44 resolve UAP. However it would be naive to believe that the resolution of all UAP can be 9:51 solely accomplished by the DoD and IC alone. We will need to prioritize collection and leverage authorities for monitoring 9:58 all domains within the continental United States AARO's ultimate success will require partnerships with the 10:04 interagency industry partners, academia and the scientific community as well as the public. 10:10 AARO is partnering with the services, the intelligence community, DOE, as well as civil partners and across the U.S 10:16 government to tap into the resources of the interagency. The UAP challenge is more an operational 10:22 and scientific issue than it is an intelligence issue. As such, we are working with industry, 10:29 academia and the scientific community which bring their own resources ideas and expertise to this challenging 10:36 problem set. Robust collaboration and peer review across a broad range of partners will 10:42 promote greater objectivity and transparency in the study of UAP. I want to underscore today that only a 10:49 very small percentage of UAP reports display signatures that could reasonably be described as anomalous. The majority 10:56 of unidentified objects reported to AARO demonstrate mundane characteristics of balloons, unmanned 11:03 aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena, and other readily explainable sources. 11:08 While a large number of cases in our holdings remain technically unresolved, this is primarily due to a lack of data 11:16 associated with those cases. Without sufficient data, we are unable to reach defendable conclusions 11:22 that meet the high scientific standards we set for resolution and I will not close a case that I cannot defend the 11:29 conclusions of. I recognize that this answer is unsatisfying to those who in good faith 11:35 assume that what they see with their eyes, with their cameras, and with their radars is incontrovertible evidence of 11:41 extraordinary characteristics and performance. Yet time and again, with sufficient scientific quality data, it is fact that 11:48 UAP often but not always resolve into readily explainable sources. 11:54 Humans are subject to deception and Illusions, sensors to unexpected responses and malfunctions and in some 12:00 cases intentional interference. Getting to the handful of cases that pass this level of scrutiny is the 12:07 mission of AARO. That is not to say that UAP, once resolved, are no longer of national 12:12 security interest, however. On the contrary, learning that a UAP isn't of exotic origin but is instead just a 12:19 quadcopter or balloon leads to the question of who is operating that quadcopter and to what purpose. 12:26 The answers to those questions will inform potential national security or law enforcement responses. 12:32 AARO is a member of the Department's support to the administration's tiger team effort to deal with stratospheric 12:38 objects such as the PRC high altitude balloon. When previously unknown objects are 12:45 successfully identified, it is AARO's role to quickly and efficiently hand off such readily explainable objects to 12:52 the intelligence, law enforcement, or operational safety communities for further analysis and appropriate action. 12:59 In other words AARO's mission is to turn UAP into SEP: somebody else's 13:04 problem. The U.S government the DoD and the IC in particular has tremendous capabilities 13:11 to deal with those encountered objects in the wake of the PRC HAB event. The 13:16 interagency is working to better integrate and share information to address identifiable stratospheric objects but 13:24 that is not all AAROs lane. Meanwhile for the few cases in all domains space air and sea 13:31 that do demonstrate potentially anomalous characteristics AARO exists to help the DoD IC and interagency 13:38 resolve those anomalous cases. In doing so AARO is approaching these cases with the highest level of 13:44 objectivity and analytic rigor. This includes physically testing and employing modeling and simulation 13:50 to validate our analyses and underlying theories then peer-reviewing those results within the US government, 13:56 industry partners, and appropriately cleared academic institutions before reaching any conclusions. 14:03 I should also state clearly for the record that in our research AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of 14:09 extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics. 14:16 In the event sufficient scientific data were ever obtained that a UAP encountered can only be explained by 14:23 extraterrestrial origin, we are committed to working with our interagency partners at NASA to appropriately inform U.S 14:30 government's leadership of its findings. For those few cases that have leaked to 14:35 the public previously and subsequently commented on by the U.S government I encourage those who hold alternative 14:41 theories or views to submit your research to credible peer-reviewed scientific journals. AARO is working 14:47 very hard to do the same. That is how science works, not by blog or social media. 14:53 We know that there is tremendous public interest in UAP and a desire for answers from AARO. By its very nature the UAP 15:01 challenge has for decades lent itself to mystery sensationalism and even 15:06 conspiracy. For that reason AARO remains committed to transparency accountability 15:11 and to sharing as much with the American public as we can consistent with our obligation to protect and not only 15:18 intelligence sources and methods but U.S and Allied capabilities. However AARO's work will take time if 15:26 we are committed to do it right: it means adhering to the scientific method and the highest standards of research 15:32 integrity. It means being methodical and scrupulous; it means withholding judgment 15:37 in favor of evidence; it means following the data where it leads wherever it leads; it means establishing scientific 15:44 peer-reviewed theoretical underpinnings of observed data and AARO is committed 15:49 to all of those standards. I'm proud of AARO's progress over the last nine months. Much remains to 15:56 be done but the hard work is underway. Thank you for your continued support, and before we turn to questions I want to 16:03 walk you through some of our analytical trends in a couple of cases that we've prepared. 16:11 So one of the things that AARO does is high integrity analysis, as I've said. 16:18 This chart represents the trend analysis of all the cases in 16:25 AARO's holdings to date. What you'll see on the left is a
16:31 histogram of all of our reported sightings as a function of altitude, 16:37 so most of our sightings occur in the 15 16:42 to 25,000 foot range and that is ultimately because that's where a lot of our 16:48 aircraft are. On the far right upper corner you'll see 16:53 a breakout of the morphologies of all of the UAP that are reported. 16:58 Over half, about 52 percent, of what's been reported to us are round orb 17:05 spheres. The rest of those break out into all kinds of different other shapes. The gray 17:12 box is – essentially there's no data on what its 17:17 shape is – either it wasn't reported or the sensor did not collect it. The bottom map is a heat map of all 17:25 reporting areas across the globe that we have available to us. 17:30 What you'll notice is that there is a heavy what we call collection bias both 17:36 in altitude and in geographic location: that's where all of our sensors exist, 17:43 that's where our training ranges are, that's where our operational ranges are, that's where all of our platforms are. 17:51 In the middle what we have done is reduce the most typically reported UAP 17:57 characteristics to these fields: mostly round mostly one to four meters, white 18:05 silver translucent metallic, ten thousand, thirty thousand feet 18:10 with apparent velocities from the stationary to Mach 2. No thermal 18:16 exhausts usually detected. We get intermittent radar returns we get 18:21 intermittent radio returns, and we get intermittent thermal signatures. 18:27 That's what we're looking for and trying to understand what that is. 18:32 Next slide.
So I'm going to walk you through two 18:38 cases that we've declassified recently. This first one is an MQ-9 in the Middle 18:45 East, observing that blow up which is an apparent spherical object. VO sensors 18:52 those are not IR. If you want to, go ahead and click that and play it.
19:00 You'll see it come through the top of the screen - there it goes and then the camera will slew to follow it. 19:08 You'll see it pop in and out of the field of view there. This is essentially all of the data we 19:14 have associated with this event from some years ago. It is going to be virtually impossible 19:21 to fully identify that, just based off of that video. Now what we can do and what we are doing 19:29 is keeping that as part of that group of 52 percent 19:35 to see what are the similarities, what are the trends across all these, do we 19:40 see these in a particular distribution? Do they all behave the same or not? As we get more data, 19:48 we will be able to go back and look at these in a fuller context. How are we going to get more data? We are 19:55 working with the joint staff to issue guidance to all the services and commands that will then establish what 20:03 are the reporting requirements, the timeliness, and all of the data that is required to be delivered to us and 20:09 retained from all the associated sensors. That historically hasn't been the case 20:15 and it's been happenstance that data has been collected. Next slide.
20:22 This particular event, South Asia MQ-9, looking at another MQ-9 and what's 20:30 highlighted there in that red circle is an object that flies through the screen. 20:35 Unlike the previous one this one actually shows some really interesting things that everyone thought 20:41 was truly anomalous to start with. First of all it's a high speed object that's 20:47 flying in the field of regard of two MQ-9s. Second, it appears to have this 20:53 trail behind it, right, which at first blush, you would think that looks like a propulsion trail. 21:01 In reality, if you want to play the first slide, we'll show you what that looks 21:07 like in real time, or first video .
so we're looking at that - there it goes. 21:13 Why don’t you play it again and then pause it halfway through, right there. 21:18 All right, if you might be able to see that trail there behind it, that's actually not a real trail; that is 21:25 a sensor artifact. Each one of those little blobs is 21:31 actually a representation of the object as it's moving through and later in the video, as the 21:38 as the camera slews, that trail actually follows the direction of the camera, not 21:45 the direction of the object. We pulled these apart frame by frame. We 21:51 were able to demonstrate that that is essentially a readout overlap of the image. It's a 21:58 shadow image, right, it's not real. Further,, if you later follow this all the way to end it starts 22:05 to resolve itself into that blob that's in that picture on the top of the right and if you squint it looks like an 22:12 aircraft because it actually turns out to be an aircraft. Go ahead and put that on.
22:19 So you'll see the tail sort of pop out there and so what you're looking at is this is in the infrared this is the heat 22:26 signature off of the engines of a commuter aircraft that happened to be flying in the vicinity of 22:32 where those two mq-9s were at. Why am I showing you this? So the first 22:38 one that I showed you, we don't have resolved yet. Right, that is an unresolved case we are still studying; this one we 22:46 can resolve, but this is the kind of data that we have to work with and the type of analysis that we have to do which can 22:54 be quite extensive when you have to pull these apart frame by frame. Further we're now matching all of this 23:01 with the models of all of those imaging sensors, so that I can say I can recreate 23:08 this. I can actually show how the sensor is going to respond. All of these sensors don't necessarily 23:14 respond the way you think they do especially out in the world and in the 23:20 field. I believe that's all I have and I 23:25 will open it up for your questions. [KG] Thank you so much, Dr Kirkpatrick, can 23:30 you just give us some raw numbers of how many credible UAPs you've analyzed, how many have 23:37 been resolved, and sort of in what buckets, and then how many are still left to be resolved? just an update from your 23:42 January public report where it was 366 or something in about 150 were were 23:49 balloons and about two dozen were drones. You know, just give us an update if you have one. [SK] Sure. So as of this week we are 23:57 tracking over a total of 650 cases 24:03 now. The report in January basically said about half of the ones at that time 24:09 about 150 were balloons, were likely balloon-like, or something like that that - 24:14 doesn't mean they're resolved. Oh I see, so what let me let me walk everyone through what our analytic process looks 24:21 like. We have essentially a five-step process, right. So we have, we 24:27 get our cases in with all the data, we create a case for that event. 24:35 My team does a preliminary scrub of all of those cases as they come in just to 24:41 sort out: do we have any information that says this is in one of those likely 24:46 categories? It's likely a balloon, it's likely a balloon a bird, it's like we some other object, 24:53 or we don't know, then we prioritize those based off of 25:00 where they are, are they attached to a national security area? Does it show some anomalous 25:08 phenomenology that is of interest? If it's just a spherical thing that's floating around with the 25:15 wind and it has no payload on it, that's going to be less important than something that has a payload on it, which 25:21 would be less important than something that's maneuvering, right. So there's there's sort of a hierarchy of just binning the priorities 25:28 because we can't do all of them at once. Once we do that and we prioritize them 25:35 when we take that package of data in that case, and I have set up two teams. 25:40 Think of this as a red team, blue team, or a competitive analysis. I have an intelligence community team 25:46 made up of intelligence analysts, and I have an ST team made up of scientists 25:52 and engineers and the people that actually build a lot of these sensors or physicists because, you know, if you're a 25:57 physicist, you can do anything, right. But they're not associated with the 26:04 intel community; they're not iIntel officers, so they they look at this through the lens of the sensor of the 26:11 what the data says. We give that package to both teams. The intelligence community 26:17 is going to look at it through the lens of the intelligence record and and what they assess in their intel tradecraft 26:23 which they have very specific rules and regulations on how they do that. Scientific community, technical community 26:29 is going to look at it through the lens of what is the data is telling me, what is the sensor doing, what would I expect a 26:36 sense of response to be, and back that out. Those two groups give 26:41 us their answers, we then adjudicate, if they agree, then I am more likely to 26:48 close that case if they agree on what it is. If they disagree, we will have an adjudication, we'll bring them together, 26:55 we'll take a look at the differences, we'll adjudicate what, why do you say one thing and you say another. 27:01 We will then come to a case recommendation 27:07 that'll get written up by my team that then goes to a senior technical 27:12 advisory group which is outside of all of those people made up of senior technical folks and 27:20 and intel analysts and operators from 27:25 retired out of the community and they they essentially peer review 27:30 what that case recommendation is. They write their recommendations, that 27:37 comes back to me, I review it, we make a determination, and I'll sign off one way or the other 27:42 and then that will go out as the case determination. Once we have an 27:48 approved web portal to hang the unclassified stuff, we will, you know, we would downgrade and declassify things 27:55 and put it out there. In the meantime we're putting a lot of these on our classified web portal where 28:02 we can then collaborate with the rest of the community so they can see what's going on. 28:07 That's in a nutshell, that is the process right. So 28:14 because of that, that takes time, so, of those over 650, you know, we've 28:22 prioritized about half of them to be of 28:30 anomalous interesting value and now we have to go through those and 28:35 go, how much do I have actual data for, because, if all I have is a operator 28:41 report that says I saw X, Y, or Z, my assessment is A, B, or C. That's not really 28:48 sufficient; that's a good place to start, but I have to have data, I have to have radar data, I have to have EO data, I have 28:55 to have thermal data, I have to have overhead data, and we need to look at all that 29:01 now from a big picture perspective I still have. That's all very still, very valuable data 29:07 and we're looking at applying a lot of things - new tools analytic tools like 29:13 natural language processing, so I can go across all of those reports and look for 29:19 commonalities: how many of them are being described as round spherical objects 29:24 that are maneuvering, how many of them are not maneuvering, how many of them seem to have a plume to it or know 29:32 that's also going to be very valuable to give us more of a global picture and a trends analysis of what are we saying, 29:39 right. And help us get to the determination, so go back to your question, ma'am, we 29:45 have this next quarterly report will be coming out here pretty soon. Our next 29:52 annual report you all have given us moved it up to to 29:59 June, July we're going to be having that done about that time frame and we will 30:04 have a, we'll be combining a whole number of reports into that one. I think 30:11 we're currently sitting at around, 30:16 if I remember correct, we were around 20 to 30-ish or about halfway through 30:22 that analytic process. A handful of them have made it all the way out to the other side, gone through 30:28 peer review, we've got case closure reports done and signed. 30:33 We're going to get faster as we get more people on board and we get more of the 30:39 community tools to automate some of the analysis that has to be done. [KG] 30:45 Senator? [JE] Yeah, thank you, madam chair, and Dr Kirkpatrick. The ODNI annual threat 30:51 assessment states that China's space activities are designed to erode U.S 30:57 influence across military technological economic and diplomatic spheres. Likewise, 31:03 Russia will remain a key space competitor. In the course of your work, 31:09 have you become aware of any Chinese or Russia technical advancements to surveil 31:14 or attack U.S interests? [JE] That's a great question. Part of what 31:20 we have to do as we go through these, especially the ones that show 31:26 signatures of advanced technical capabilities, is determine if there is a 31:31 foreign nexus. That's really hard if what we observe 31:37 doesn't have a Chinese or Russian flag on the side of it. 31:42 Now, I think it is prudent to say 31:49 of the cases that are showing, 31:54 you know, some sort of advanced technical signature of which we're talking single percentages of the entire 32:00 population of cases, we have, I am concerned 32:06 about what that nexus is and I have indicators 32:12 that some are related to foreign capabilities. We have to investigate that with our IC 32:19 partners, and as we get evidence to support that, that gets then handed off to the 32:25 appropriate IC agency to investigate. Again it becomes an S.E.P. at that point. [JE] 32:32 Yeah, somebody else's problem, right, very good, thank you, yes. Is it 32:39 possible that the Chinese or Russian advanced technologies could be causing some of these anomalous 32:46 behaviors, and you said there seems to be some indicators. 32:53 So, just for us today, could you describe potential threat that might exist out 32:59 there, if they are foreign nexus? [SP] 33:05 In order to do this research appropriately, we have to also be cognizant of what is 33:13 the state of the art and development across the IC community; what is, what are the DARPAs of the world 33:19 doing, what are our, what's the horizon scanning of emerging technologies 33:25 appropriate to this subcommittee, what is happening out there and if 33:31 somebody could accelerate that capability, how would that manifest itself, and what would it look like and 33:36 do those signatures match what we're seeing? There are emerging capabilities out 33:43 there that that in many instances Russia and China, well China in 33:51 particular, are on par or ahead of us in some areas. 33:57 All right, so previously I used to be the Defense Department's Intelligence Officer for Science and Technical 34:03 Intelligence - that was our job, was to look for, what does all that look like, 34:09 and then, you know, my last several years of course in space command 34:14 doing space. The adversary is not 34:22 waiting, they are advancing, and they're advancing quickly. 34:28 If I were to put on some of my old hats, I would tell you they are less risk-averse at technical 34:35 advancement than we are, right. They are just willing to try things and see if it works 34:42 are there capabilities that could be employed against us in both an ISR and a weapons fashion absolutely 34:49 do I have evidence that they're doing it in these cases 34:54 no but I have concerning indicators [JE] 35:00 thank you I appreciate that and that's that is why it's so important that you are working with the intelligence 35:05 Community as well because you you have the science the data background but you 35:11 also need to know from various sources what adversaries may be working on is 35:18 that correct thank you thank you very much thank you madam chair Senator [JR] 35:24 well thank you chair gillibrand ranking member Ernst this is a really important hearing I'd like to thank you Dr 35:31 Kirkpatrick for your service to the country and as a former systems analyst myself I really appreciate your flow 35:39 chart the description of the process and particularly the trends analysis going forward how that's going to help us and 35:45 you talked about language the large LLMs, the large language models of artificial intelligence, that's really going to help 35:51 us in the hunt forward predictive analysis I think to some of your point what we're worried 35:59 about but I want to focus on Nevada because I want to talk about the impact of UAPs on Aviation safety so when it 36:06 comes to unified unidentified aerial phenomenal phenomena excuse me one of my 36:11 first concerns is really about the safety of Nevada's military Aviator so we have Airman stationed at Nellis 36:17 Air Force Base Naval aviators flying at Naval Air Station Fallon and service members across from across the world 36:25 training at the Nevada test and training range I know you know all this and unfortunately the existence of advanced 36:31 UAPs in the U.S airspace and over U.S military installations not a new 36:37 phenomenon the Navy's officially acknowledged that between 2004 and 2021 11 near misses 36:44 occurred involving UAPs that required pilot action and follow-up reports as a 36:50 result in 2019 the Navy established a protocol for Pilots to report on their dangerous encounters so could you speak 36:57 to any ongoing efforts within DOD to ensure the safety of our aviators with a 37:02 potential UAP encounter and what's your relationship with North com NORAD spacecom when it comes to this immediate 37:09 real-time response and how they're, they're right there in the moment right? [SK] 37:14 absolutely that's a great question so let me start with my relationship with 37:21 the commands are are very good I just came back from uh sitting down with with General van hurk and all the all the J 37:27 staff out at North com a couple weeks ago talking through exactly what we need to do to help them get their arms around 37:34 this we are also working very closely with joint staff and the joint staff has just 37:42 been very outstanding in helping work through policy and guidance issues to 37:47 the forces and to the services and I would like to just make sure that 37:52 we we message back to all of the operators the importance of their uh 37:59 reporting and the fact that you're about to get a you know a bunch of new requirements that we're issuing through 38:05 the joint staff on all of the data that we're going to need you to save and report back to us 38:12 it is invaluable and we are working to try to to take the most advantage of 38:18 that to learn what it is that we're trying to mitigate to get directly to your question 38:24 first thing that we're doing is normalizing our reporting right we're standardizing our reporting and the 38:30 requirements associated with that guidance from the doing staff I think goes out maybe this week maybe next week 38:37 on that we've been working with them for some months that does exactly what I just said gives them timelines it gives 38:43 them requirements it gives them here's all the data you have to have um and you got to retain it 38:50 the next thing that comes after that is a plan ORD that will go out to the 38:55 commands for mitigation and response so there's a couple of things that we have to do 39:01 one I need to work with the commands and with the IC and with our outside of our 39:10 DOD and IC Partners to extend our collection posture targeted at some of these key areas that 39:17 you saw on that heat map that have a lot of activity so that we 39:22 can turn on extra collection when an operator sees something so part of this 39:28 is generating as a response function in what we call a 39:33 tactic technique and procedure for an operator when he sees something calls back to the operations floor they can 39:40 turn on additional collection what does that collection look like how do I bring all that together so I can get more data 39:47 on what is that thing [JR] can I ask really quickly do you have the authorities you need to extend your collection posture 39:54 between agencies or or branches of the military because that seems to me to 39:59 maybe be a sticking point I know my time's just about up I'd love to follow up about your risk management 40:04 methodologies for some of these but do you need any authorities that you don't have to uh get get the data - [SK] there are 40:11 some authorities that we need we currently are operating under title 10 authorities but we have you know good 40:18 relationships across the other agencies but having additional authorities for collection tasking counterintelligence 40:24 that's something those are all things that would be helpful yes [JR] thank you [KG] to follow up Dr Kirkpatrick 40:30 will you help us write that language so we can put it in the defense bill this year so that we know what authorities you need [SK] we can do that [KG] thank you 40:38 um we're going to start second round so if you want to stay you can ask another round I have at least three more questions so 40:44 do you want to do you want to go right now so you in case you have to leave yeah go ahead [JR] 41:01 [inaudible] um spy balloon it did cross through the U.S airspace shot down by a Sidewinder 41:07 missile fired from an F-22. Sidewinders cost us close to half a 41:13 million dollars each so given the cost of these missiles the cost per flight all of these other 41:19 things like I said follow up on the authorities your methodologies the data collection they can help us in other 41:25 ways but how do you think we can develop a sustainable affordable response to 41:30 UAPs where we need to um that may that will definitely violate 41:35 our airspace not may definitely violate our airspace every chance that they can 41:40 get because there are adversaries they want this information so what do you think some cost-effective measures might 41:46 be that we can get what we need out of that or take them down whatever is appropriate whatever the appropriate 41:52 measure is let's put it there so that way? [JR] that is actually wrapped into the plan ORD that we're working with joint staff 41:58 to send out what are the commands need from both a capabilities perspective for kinetic and non-kinetic engagements what 42:06 are the response functions of the of the particular wings or or navy what have 42:13 you and then what authorities do they need so one of the one of the challenges that we've 42:20 seen is is you know there's an authorities issues with the with the owners operators of those ranges that 42:28 they need to work through and we're working that with joint staff and OSD so 42:33 big picture we need to do all that if you want to get down to the specifics for you know there are non-kinetic 42:40 options to engage pretty much everything right whether it's electronic warfare whether it's you know Laser Technology [JR] 42:47 that's where this data come in, having a good data collection Predictive Analytics you 42:52 can make some assumptions on possibilities [SK] that's right and we will inform uh recommendations back to the 43:00 department on here's what could work here's what we've seen work here's what doesn't work [JR] thank you so much thank you 43:06 madam chair I appreciate it [KG] thank you very much um I just wanted to just talk a little 43:11 bit about your Logistics who you report to how that's going uh whether you need different reporting lines 43:18 um by Congressional legislation your office is administratively located with the office of the under secretary of 43:23 defense for intelligence security but you're not substantively subordinate to the under secretary rather you are a 43:29 direct report to the deputy secretary are you taking Direction directly from the deputy secretary are you able to 43:34 meet and brief the deputy secretary um is the office of USDINS (Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security) 43:40 um working with you to have the right framework [SK] so USDINS and the uh I I currently 43:49 report to USDINS until they come up with the the plan for 43:56 how they're going to implement legislation DOD and DNI are working through that now 44:03 I'd have to refer you back to USDINS on what their plan is 44:09 um [KG] do I need to update your reporting 44:15 structure in the next defense bill or is this something that you think will work its way out or does it need further clarity I think they're planning on 44:21 coming back to you with an answer on what that plan is and I think at that time that will inform 44:28 what you want to do okay thank you um as you know Dr Kirkpatrick Congress 44:34 has mandated that your office establish a discoverable and accessible electronic method for potential Witnesses of UAP 44:41 incidents and potential participants in government UAP related activities to 44:46 contact your office and tell their stories Congress also set up a process whereby people 44:51 subject to non-disclosure agreements preventing them from disclosing what they may have witnessed or participated 44:57 in could tell you what they know that risk of retribution from the or violation of their NDAs. Have you 45:03 submitted a public-facing website product for approval to your superiors and how long has it been under review [SK] 45:09 I have we submitted the first version of that before Christmas [KG] 45:17 and do you have an estimate from them when they will respond and when you'll have feedback on that? [SK] no I don't [KG] okay we 45:25 will author a letter asking for that timely response um to your superiors oh 45:31 when when do you expect that you will establish a public-facing discoverable 45:36 um an access portal for people to use to contact your office as the law requires [SK] 45:43 so I would like to First say thank you all very much for referring the 45:49 witnesses that you have thus far to us I appreciate that we've brought in nearly two dozen so far it's been it's been 45:57 very uh helpful I'd ask that you continue to do that until we have an approved plan 46:02 we have a multi-phased approach for doing that that we've been uh 46:08 socializing and have submitted for approval sometime 46:14 and once that happens then we should be able to push all that out and get get this a little more automated [KG] great [SK] 46:22 what I would ask though is as you all continue to refer to us and refer witnesses to us I'd appreciate if you do 46:29 that please try to prioritize the ones that you want to do because we do have a 46:34 small research staff dealing with that thank you [KG] 46:40 um and then do you have any uh plans for public engagement that you want to share now that you think it's important that 46:45 the public knows what the plan is [SK] so we have a uh 46:51 a number of public engagement recommendations according to our 46:56 strategic plan all of those have been submitted for approval they have to be approved by USDINS 47:03 are waiting for approval to go do that. [KG] okay I will follow up on that 47:09 um and then my last question is about um the integration of departments, UAP 47:15 operations, research analysis, and strategic communications um during the recent UAP incidents over 47:23 North America. It didn't appear that you were allowed to play that role do you agree that the public perception is 47:29 generally that you and your office did not appear to play a major role in the Department's response to the detection of objects over North America. 47:35 What can you tell us that's going on behind the scenes from your perspective and in the after action assessment 47:42 process? Is there awareness that there is a need to operate differently in the future and a commitment to doing so? [SK] 47:49 when the when the objects were first detected I got called by joint staff 47:54 leadership uh to come in uh late one night to review events as they were 48:01 unfolding and to give them a you know an assessment based on what we knew at that 48:07 time. I did that I worked with the director of joint staff the J2 and the j3 that night 48:15 and over the couple of following days on what are the types of things that we are 48:20 tracking from a unidentified object perspective, what databases do we use, those sorts of things for 48:28 known objects, known tracking. Beyond that the response I would have to 48:36 I would have to refer you back to the White House for the decision on how they did the response, we did not play a role 48:44 in what you would respond other than that initial, you know, advice on what we are seeing 48:51 and how we are seeing it. [JE] 48:56 thank you - thank you madam chair um Dr Kirkpatrick I I know that your 49:02 office has gotten a lot of attention uh recently and of course any new agency 49:08 there tends to be a push to increase size and and funding. We want to make 49:15 sure that you're able to meet your goals but what I also need to ensure is that we're not duplicating or replicating 49:22 existing functions and creating redundancy within DOD and the 49:28 interagency. So what steps are you taking right now to make sure that your 49:35 particular office and function is unique to any of the other agencies 49:43 that might be involved in these types of cases? [SK] yeah that's a that's a great question. So I would like to lay down 49:50 here's what am I sort of, my mission and my goal and my vision here. So the vision is at one 49:58 point, at some point in the future, you should not need an AARO. If I'm 50:03 successful in what I'm doing we should be able to normalize everything that we're doing into existing processes, 50:10 functions, agencies, and organizations, and make that part of their mission and their role. Right now the niche that we 50:17 form is really going after the unknowns if you I think you articulated it early 50:23 on this is a hunt mission for what might somebody be doing in our backyard that we don't know about. 50:31 All right well that that that is what we are doing right but at some point we should be able to normalize that. That's 50:37 why it's so important the work we're doing with joint staff to normalize that into pilot DoD policy and guidance, 50:45 we are bringing in all of our interagency partners, so NASA is providing a liaison for us, I have FBI, 50:53 liaison I have OSI or liaison I have service Liaisons the ice half of my staff come from the 51:01 IC, half of my staff come from other scientific and technical backgrounds, I 51:07 have DOE, and so what we're trying to do is ensure again as I make UAP into SEP they get 51:16 handed off to the people that that is their mission to go do, so that we aren't duplicating that, I'm 51:23 not going to go chase the Chinese high altitude balloon for example. That's not my job, it's not an unknown, and it's not 51:29 anomalous anymore. Now it goes over to them. [JE] all right very good thank you madam 51:35 chair [KG] um I wanted just to follow up on the 51:40 filters for surveillance outside observers have speculated that DOD sets filters on certain sensors to eliminate 51:47 objects that are moving really fast or slow because what we are looking for militarily are conventional aircraft and 51:53 missiles. UAP that doesn't fit into these programs would thereby be weeded out and 51:58 never noticed this special speculation was proven to be true during the UAP incidents over North America where DOD 52:04 publicly acknowledged that we were able to start seeing these UAPs only when we opened up these filters. 52:11 obviously our military operators cannot be overloaded with objects that are not conventional aircraft or missiles can 52:17 you nonetheless make sure that the raw data is being captured and subsequently processed that your office knows what's 52:23 really out there and is that going to cost money will you expect to pay for that money out of AARO’s budget? [SK] 52:31 one of the key tenets that we're trying to do in our science plan is understand what those signatures are 52:38 so we get all the raw for example radar data prior to the scrubbing and 52:45 filtering to allow it to enter into our weapon systems and our detection systems 52:51 we are now taking all that data and cross-correlating it to what pilots are 52:57 saying they're seeing or other observations from other operators 53:03 what that allows us to do is then see if there are any any signatures in that 53:08 data that I can pull out generate uh what we'll call automatic Target 53:14 recognition algorithms that allow us to then use that signature associated with 53:20 a observed UAP whatever that UAP may be 53:25 we will then make those recommendations of what those changes should be back to 53:31 the department so the deputy secretary had asked me last October to make those 53:36 recommendations what changes do we need to make to Radars to uh platforms to 53:42 detection systems and algorithms to to pull on those those algorithms make those changes that's going to take some 53:48 time that's where the research and development comes in right it's not it's not instantaneous right now a lot 53:55 of the I won't say uh you know a lot of the 54:00 the things that fall outside of the ranges of those filters have been identified by people in the loop and you 54:08 can't have people in the loop all the time you can you know it's just not cost effective 54:13 so part of our budget is working through what is what does that look like 54:19 and then making those recommendations back to the big program offices for them to put into changes in the acquisition [KG] 54:28 my last question is about the academic Community um can you give us an update on sort of 54:33 how you collaborate with the academic community and whether how the independent study being done by NASA 54:40 complements AARO’s work? [SK] sure two questions so I'm going to try to 54:45 make it quick the 1979 Carl Sagan said extraordinary claims 54:53 require extraordinary evidence I would go one step further and I would say extraordinary claims require not 55:01 only extraordinary evidence but extraordinary science and so how do you do that you do that with the scientific 55:06 method right and so as AARO is developing and implementing its science 55:11 plan, it has to do so grounded in a solid foundation of scientific theory across 55:18 the entire range of hypotheses that have been presented for what UAP 55:24 are. That range spans adversary breakthrough 55:31 technology on one hand, known objects and phenomena in the middle, all the way to 55:37 the extreme theories of extraterrestrials. All of that has physics-based signatures 55:45 associated with it, whether it's theoretical from the academic community, known from things like hypersonic 55:52 weapons or adversary breakthrough technologies, as we've talked about before, 55:59 the known objects that we have to go measure, the idea is across that entire range. You 56:06 have to come up with peer-reviewed scientific basis for all of it. The 56:13 academic community plays a very big role on the one end of the spectrum, 56:18 the intelligence community on the other end of the spectrum, and then measurement in the middle. 56:24 Once I have those signatures identified in validated peer-reviewed 56:31 documents then I have something to point to for all that data because all that data is going to match 56:37 one of those signatures, right, and then I can go, “Well, it's that and not that,” or “It's that,” 56:45 and that helps us go through all that. Where NASA comes in and the 56:51 study that they're doing which um uh supporting is 56:58 really looking at the unclassified data 57:03 sources that might be used to augment our classified data sources to 57:09 understand if there's a signature there we can pull on so very similar to the radars but 57:17 civil capabilities. So for example we have a lot of climate science satellites for example that look at Earth, 57:24 lots of them how many of those is the data valuable 57:31 in seeing these kinds of objects the challenge in that is those those 57:37 platforms don't necessarily have the resolution you need. So if you remember the slide I put up there with the trends 57:45 the size of the objects we're looking for are typically reported to be one to 57:50 four meters. Well the resolution of many of the climate science, civil science, you 57:56 know, civil satellites was much larger than that which means you'd have a hard time picking out something that's 58:03 smaller than a pixel on the imagery on the data. That's not to say all of it's 58:08 not useful and there are ways of pulling through that data and going through that is what NASA is focused on right now, is 58:15 what is what are some other data sources that could be used in additional things like open source and crowdsourcing of 58:23 data. We're exploring public-private partnerships, ma'am, as you know, we've talked about in the past, 58:29 to look at, is there a way to smartly 58:35 crowdsource additional data that might be useful to augment some of my classified sources, 58:43 and what does that look like, and how would we do it so that we're not overwhelmed by, you know, everybody who 58:49 wants to take a picture of everything. [KG] 58:55 Is there anything else you'd like to tell the committee before we close or do you have another round? Yeah. Do you 59:00 have anything else you'd like to tell the committee before we close? [SK] Thank you very much for allowing us to come and 59:05 share a little bit of insight into what AARO is up to and what we're doing. I hope to be able to share a whole lot 59:11 more in the future. We have a lot of work to do, so if you don't hear from me outside, it's because 59:18 we've got a lot of work to do. [KG] Well thank you so much, Dr Kirkpatrick, thank you for the hearing. [SK] Thank you.