By Toby Martinez
and Shane Frakes
Roswell Daily Record
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) voiced her displeasure at the failure to fully fund the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) for a second year in a row at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday. In the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, AARO was requested to receive 11 million, a figure that Gillibrand argued was not the fully requested amount.
In comments to Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Michael J. McCord, Gillibrand said, “Mr. McCord, I was disappointed for the second year in a row that the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution office, or AARO, was not fully funded in the department’s budget request. Understanding that we cannot get into specific budget figures in this forum, can you discuss why AARO was not fully funded?”
McCord replied, “Senator, I don’t have any information from my colleague Under Secretary Moultrie that he needed additional funding in this area. It’s a relatively new office we are standing up, so I was under the impression, am under the impression, that we have adequate funding for the relatively new state of this, but I will double back with him if there is a concern.”
Gillibrand pressed, “I need you to send a letter to this committee in writing about why it wasn’t fully funded. Several senators signed a letter to Secretary Hicks asking that it be fully funded in this budget. We specified in a classified annex exactly what funding wasn’t being met, and it’s operational funding, it’s basic operational funding, so I am highly concerned about this.”
The New York senator then referenced the revelations that balloons and several other objects that have yet to be publicly identified were discovered over North America, “Secretary Austin, the incidents last month involving the Chinese high-altitude balloon and the three unknown objects highlighted the need for us to continue to improve our understanding of UAPs over U.S. airspace. Do you intend to ensure AARO receives full funding in the future?”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin replied, “I will, senator, and in this budget, we asked for 11 million in support of the office of that initiative.”
Sen. Gillibrand retorted, “That is not the budget request. Will you investigate why the budget request isn’t being met and be part of the response to the committee?”
“I will. I will,” Sec. Austin replied.
The continued pressure from members of the Senate and Congress on the UAP topic comes as the Department of Defense maintains its refusal to release visuals of three unidentified objects shot down by American fighter jets in February. The high-quality images of the Chinese high-altitude balloon that was shot down in the days prior to these events have been released, prompting questions over the delays by the DOD to release those images. When the Roswell Daily Record contacted the DOD regarding images of the UAP that have not been released, a DOD spokesperson responded, “None of that footage is currently declassified for release.”
Sources close to the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed that new hearings on UAPs are in the works. Two committees mentioned in connection with a potential new round of hearings include the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, which is chaired by Sen. Gillibrand, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) is a member of this committee and has been outspoken on the government’s refusal to share information on the UAP topic. The Roswell Daily Record reached out to Burchett’s Washington office by phone Thursday when a staffer confirmed that Burchett is looking to hold further hearings on the topic, but the calendar had not yet been finalized.