UFO buffs – and fans of a certain TV show from the 1990s – are quick to suggest the “truth is out there,” and soon new conspiracy theories may swirl after the Pentagon’s chief UFO investigator announced this month that he’ll be stepping down from his post after 18 months.

However, Sean Kirkpatrick, the head of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, isn’t retiring due to discovering too much, or even fears of what is actually out there. He told Politico that he had deferred his planned retirement last year to take on the job atop AARO and now feels he has achieved his goals.

“I’m ready to move on. I have accomplished everything I said I was going to do,” Kirkpatrick explained while adding that he had a few more tasks to wrap up before he signs off. One of the projects is to complete a historical review of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs) – more commonly known as the ubiquitous UFOs.

Before taking his position with the Pentagon to investigate UAPs, Kirkpatrick – who is also a physicist – had spent decades in a variety of scientific jobs for the military. His deputy, Tim Phillips will lead the office in an acting capacity until the Department of Defense (DoD) can hire a permanent replacement.

“Dr. Kirkpatrick has served the American people with honesty and integrity, tackling an incredibly difficult mission to explain the unknown,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in a statement on Wednesday. “His commitment to transparency with the United States Congress and the American public on UAP leaves a legacy the department will carry forward as AARO continues its mission.”

She added that his commitment to transparency with the United States Congress and the American public on UAP leaves a legacy the department will carry forward as AARO continues its mission.

Establishment of the AARO

It was in July 2022 that the Pentagon announced the establishment of the office, and named Kirkpatrick as its director, with the mission to synchronize efforts across the DoD and other U.S. federal departments and agencies to “detect, identify and attribute objects of interest” in or around military facilities or airspace.

This wasn’t just to find out if little green men from another world were at the controls of an alien craft, but to determine if any of the UAPs might pose a threat to the safety of operations of the facilities as well as to national security.

Moreover, while it is common to think of the old warning, “look to the skies” that was made famous during the UFO craze of the 1950s thanks to B-movies, AARO has also investigated unidentified space, airborne, trans medium objects, and even submerged objects.

It also isn’t just objects from another world that could be a threat to U.S. national security. Already, Kirkpatrick’s team has investigated more than 800 cases, and that included helping the U.S. detect a fleet of Chinese surveillance balloons.

No Secret Alien Crafts?

Over the summer, Kirkpatrick responded to an alleged whistleblower’s claim that the government has covered up a decades-long program to reverse-engineer an alien craft. According to its outgoing chief, AARO has uncovered no supporting evidence to back up such a claim.

A report released last month found that most UFO or UAP reports are likely to have “ordinary” explanations, even as the government’s investigation continues.

“Based on the ability to resolve cases to date, with an increase in the quality of the data secured, the unidentified and purported anomalous nature of most UAP will likely resolve to ordinary phenomena and significantly reduce the amount of UAP case submissions,” the report stated.

However, Kirkpatrick has also suggested that the best thing to come from AARO would be to prove there are aliens. He said the alternative is much worse.

“If we don’t prove it’s aliens, then what we’re finding is evidence of other people doing stuff in our backyard,” he said, which could be read to mean China, Russia or another nation. “And that’s not good.”

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.