The Pentagon's chief UFO investigator, Sean Kirkpatrick, will be stepping down from the role after a 27-year career in the U.S. intelligence community.
The All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office said Kirkpatrick will be retiring after a distinguished career that ended amid the "difficult mission to explain the unknown." While Kirkpatrick was in the role as the head of the office that looks into reports of unexplained flying phenomena, the public and lawmakers have begun taking an ever more significant interest in UFOs.
Kirkpatrick told Politico exclusively that he is ready for the next chapter in his life after 18 months in the current role, which is expected to be his last in government.
"I have accomplished everything I said I was going to do," he told the outlet.
According to the Defense Department, the government has investigated more than 800 unidentified anomalous phenomena cases during Kirkpatrick's time leading the department. The first public-facing website for AARO was also established during that time, in an effort to bring more transparency to the work they're doing, the Pentagon said.
"Our department is stronger and better prepared for future scientific and national security challenges because of Sean's distinguished service to our country. We are deeply appreciative of his tenacity, insight, and undying dedication to our national security mission, and wish him the greatest of success in his future endeavors," the Department of Defense said in a statement.
AARO also was credited for its role in helping the United States detect a fleet of surveillance balloons that originated in China. Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command said the government had also detected earlier intrusions by other Chinese surveillance balloons which came near or entered U.S. airspace.
Kirkpatrick pushed back at a claim by a whistleblowerthis summer that said the U.S. government has been reverse-engineering alien craft and covering up a decadeslong program.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Kirkpatrick grew up in the Atlanta area and began his career in defense immediately after finishing graduate school. He is expected to be replaced in his current role by the end of this year.
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