WASHINGTON — After only eight months of existence, the Pentagon’s office tasked with investigating and tracking UFOs — or unidentified aerial phenomena — will look beyond the stars for objects of interest.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it renamed and expanded the authority of the government’s chief UFO office. Formerly known as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group, the office will now be known as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO.

With the new name comes increased responsibilities, the Defense Department said in a statement. While the group was mostly focused on airborne and threats in space, the renamed office will also look into unidentified objects that are submerged in water or deemed “transmedium.”

Transmedium typically refers to the ability of an object to fly across multiple environments. For example, an object could be considered “transmedium” if it could fly through Earth’s atmosphere in addition to another environment, such as space or underwater.

The office’s new scope and name result from a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022. The bill included a provision to establish an office with responsibilities that were broader than those originally assigned to the old office.

The renaming comes amid an uptick in interest in UFOs in Washington.

Congress takes renewed interest in issue

Earlier this year, Congress held its first hearing on UFOs in over a half century. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned Pentagon officials for more information about sightings of UFOs, with many lawmakers voicing criticism about a lack of transparency surrounding the issue.

The House voted last week to create a government system for reporting UFOs as an amendment to this year’s defense bill. The amendment would also compel current and former defense officials to reveal information about the phenomena.

In June 2021, the intelligence community released a long-awaited report on what it knows about a series of flying objects observed over the past few decades. The release of the report, while revealing little about the sightings, marked one of the first times the government acknowledged the mysterious sightings.

In addition to investigating objects, the renamed office will also be tasked with synchronizing efforts across the Department of Defense and with other U.S. federal departments and agencies to detect and identify objects of interest near locations pertinent to national security, such as training areas or military installations.

In cases where a relevant object is identified and deemed a hazard to national security, the office is also responsible for mitigating the threat.

Catherine Buchaniec is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where she covers artificial intelligence, cyber warfare and uncrewed technologies.

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