For all the tens of thousands of people around the world that believe in UFOs and aliens, there are vast numbers of people who label the believers as nut jobs and ostracize them as crackpots. This means that many people in the military who encountered unknown objects in the skies over the years never reported the encounter out of fear of being labeled. Just because something is labeled an Unidentified Flying Object or UFO doesn't mean that object is from another world. It simply means that we don’t know where the object came from or what it is.
As it turns out, the Pentagon and the U.S. Military have spent millions of dollars on a program to investigate the UFO phenomenon. The Department of Defense (DoD) allotted $22 million that was apparently deeply hidden in the $600 billion annual DoD budget specifically for something called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. This program was founded and funded specifically to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects.
The program was shut down back in 2012 when its funding was cut according to the Pentagon. However, some familiar with the program say that while its funding was cut half a decade ago, the program is still in existence. While the Pentagon has only just now acknowledged the existence of the program, officials say that it has continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members.
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification program started in 2007 and some parts of it remain classified to this day. It was initially funded at the request of former U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and much of the money spent on the program went to Robert Bigelow, the same Bigelow who is currently working with NASA to create the expandable modules being tested on the ISS. Bigelow has famously stated in the past that aliens exist and that UFOs have visited Earth.
The program with Bigelow's involvement produced documents describing the sightings of aircraft that moved at very high velocities with no signs of propulsion or that hovered with no apparent means of lift. The program has also studied videos of encounters between UFOs and military aircraft, including one that was only released in August that you can see below.
While many that support or believe in UFOs are ostracized by peers, Reid was never ashamed of what he started. Reid said, "I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going. I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before."
James E. Oberg, who is a former NASA space shuttle engineer and UFO sighting debunker, says, "There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories. Lots of people are active in the air and don’t want others to know about it. They are happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise, or even to stir it up as camouflage."
As for why the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was defunded, The New York Times was told, "It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change," a Pentagon spokesman, Thomas Crosson, said in an email, referring to the Department of Defense.