Warner & Kaine Push for Full Funding of Office to Address Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and Airborne National Security Risks
Feb 16 2023
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Chairman Mark R. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) and Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), joined Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a bipartisan push to fully fund the Department of Defense (DOD) office that addresses unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and airborne national security risks. The All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) was created following a UAP amendment in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to focus the DOD on resolving UAP sightings, improve data sharing between the DOD and 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. The Fiscal Year 2023 funding falls short of what AARO needs to fulfill its mission and maintain U.S. air supremacy.
“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.”
In addition to Warner, Kaine, Gillibrand, and Rubio, the letter is signed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
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.