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The Department of Defense announced the creation of a new division to investigate UFOs in a statement on Wednesday.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security to create the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG), the statement said. The new division will serve as a successor to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force that worked under the U.S. Navy.

“Incursions by any airborne object into our SUA pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges,” the statement said. “DOD takes reports of incursions – by any airborne object, identified or unidentified – very seriously, and investigates each one.”

The establishment of the new division came about as part of an effort to “address the challenges associated with assessing UAP occurring on or near DOD training ranges and installations,” the statement said.

The statement also cited a 2021 Department of National Intelligence report submitted to Congress that “identified the need to make improvements in processes, policies, technologies, and training to improve our ability to understand UAP.”

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio previously called for Capitol Hill to drop its “stigma” surrounding UFOs and “have a process to take it seriously.”

“I mean, some of my colleagues are very interested in this topic and some kinda, you know, giggle when you bring it up,” he said. “But I don’t think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question.”

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