Amid heightened focus on airborne national security risks, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), chair of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are leading a bipartisan push for full funding of their unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) office, formally known as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). Gillibrand and Rubio’s groundbreaking AARO was created following their UAP amendment in the FY22 NDAA to focus the Department of Defense (DoD) on resolving UAP sightings, improve data sharing between DoD and the Intelligence Community on UAP sightings, address national security concerns, and report health effects people may experience in relation to UAP events. AARO has access to DoD and Intelligence Community UAP data and is required to provide Congress with briefings and reports on UAPs. FY23 funding falls short of what AARO needs to fulfill its mission and maintain American air supremacy.
In addition to Gillibrand and Rubio, the letter pushing for full funding of AARO is signed by Senators Warner (D-VA), Graham (R-SC), Heinrich (D-NM), Cramer (R-ND), Shaheen (D-NH), Kelly (D-AZ), Warren (D-MA), Kaine (D-VA), Bennet (D-CO), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Sullivan (R-AK), and Rosen (D-NV).
“AARO provides the opportunity to integrate and resolve threats and hazards to the U.S., while also offering increased transparency to the American people and reducing the stigma around this issue of high public interest,” wrote the senators. “AARO’s success will depend on robust funding for its activities and cooperation between the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. As such, we respectfully request your assistance in securing the necessary funding and organizational support for AARO’s success and longevity.”
For the full letter, please click here and see below.
The Honorable Kathleen H. Hicks Deputy Secretary of Defense
1010 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1010
The Honorable Stacey Dixon
Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence 1500 Tysons McLean Drive
McLean, VA 22102
Dear Deputy Secretary Hicks and Deputy Director Dixon,
We write today regarding implementation of Section 1683 of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the development of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). AARO provides the opportunity to integrate and resolve threats and hazards to the U.S., while also offering increased transparency to the American people and reducing the stigma. AARO’s success will depend on robust funding for its activities and cooperation between the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. As such, we respectfully request your assistance in securing the necessary funding and organizational support for AARO’s success and longevity.
While we recognize there was an Administration request for funds in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) to fund basic operating expenses for AARO, it is facing a funding shortfall that will impede its ability to fulfill its mission. The amount outlined in the classified attachment is crucial to AARO’s scientific plan, and the lack of funding for these capabilities presents a serious impediment to AARO’s mission. We believe it is imperative for the Department of Defense to reprogram funds to cover this serious funding gap and it is for these reasons that we ask that the Department of Defense reprogram funds to prevent disruption to AARO’s work. Without FY23 funding, AARO’s ability to deliver integrated collection and analysis will fall behind schedule and be sub-optimized.
Additionally, while we understand that the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Presidential Budget Request is all but finalized, we anticipate that the request will not include necessary Research, Development, Test, and Evaluations funding for FY24. While we appreciate that the Department of Defense has been vocal in expressing its support for the resolution of unidentified anomalous phenomena, this commitment must also be reflected in funding requests provided to Congress. Accordingly, we urge you to work with Congress to ensure that AARO is funded appropriately in FY24 and that robust funding is requested for FY25.
In addition to securing necessary funding, we request a briefing from your offices on your agencies’ plan to implement the dual reporting of AARO to the leadership of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. The FY23 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) requires that the Director of AARO report directly to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the
Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, with administrative support provided by the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. The briefing should cover the balance between Intelligence Community and Department of Defense involvement, including how Title 10 and Title 50 authorities will be delegated to, and exercised by, the Director of AARO. We see it as essential that AARO’s activities are not viewed or managed as solely an intelligence activity.
The FY22 and FY23 IAAs and NDAAs provided broad authorities for the resolution of unidentified anomalous phenomena across domains, demonstrating significant support for its mission from Congress. It is critical that the aspirations of AARO’s mission are met with the resources necessary to succeed.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.