Director of Pentagon’s UAP Investigations Challenges Claims Made in Recent UAP Hearing

The Pentagon’s chief scientist involved in the investigation of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) fired back at assertions that his Office was not being fully transparent with its findings, and other claims made during a Congressional hearing this week.

Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, Director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), responded to several claims made during Wednesday’s Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs hearing, which featured testimony from two former U.S. Navy pilots and a former intelligence officer involving allegations about information the U.S. federal government may be withholding about UAP. 

In a statement posted on LinkedIn, Kirkpatrick praised Congressional efforts to get to the bottom of the UAP issue while expressing displeasure with how AARO and its employees were portrayed during portions of the hearing. 

“As the Director of AARO’s amazingly talented, devoted, and highly motivated team,” Kirkpatrick wrote, “I cannot let yesterday’s hearing pass without sharing how insulting it was to the officers of the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community who chose to join AARO,” adding that many of his staff have worked “often in the face of harassment and animosity, to satisfy their Congressionally-mandated mission.” 

“They are truth-seekers, as am I,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “But you certainly would not get that impression from yesterday’s hearing.” 

The Debrief was able to verify the statement posted on LinkedIn was authored and issued by Kirkpatrick, with the caveat that the comments represented his own personal observations and opinions and not the official position of the U.S. Department of Defense or Intelligence Community. Kirkpatrick’s statement was widely shared on social media after it appeared online. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, former Navy fighter pilot Ryan Graves discussed repeated encounters with UAP that he and fellow pilots in U.S. Navy Fighter/Attack Squadron VFA-11 experienced off the U.S. Eastern Coast between 2014 and 2015. 

Former F/A-18 pilot and Commander of the Navy’s fighter squadron VFA-41, Commander David Fravor, Ret., similarly recounted how he and several other Naval aviators encountered an anomalous “white Tic-Tac-shaped object” off the Baja California peninsula in November 2004. 

Of the witnesses, it was testimony by former intelligence officer David Grusch, a representative to the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF)  while employed with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which attracted the most public attention. 

Speaking under oath, Grusch repeated claims first reported by The Debrief in June that the U.S. government had been involved in the recovery and reverse engineering of craft of “non-human origin.” 

When asked by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) if the remains of pilots from alleged craft of non-human origin had ever been obtained by the government, Grusch stated that “biologics came with some of these recoveries.”

Amidst these remarkable claims, when questioned by Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) if Grusch had “any personal knowledge of people who have been harmed or injured in efforts to cover up or conceal these extraterrestrial technology,” Grusch responded, “Yes. Personally.” 

However, the former intelligence officer declined to elaborate during a follow-up question from Burchett on whether he was aware of anyone being murdered to maintain UAP secrecy. 

“I have to be careful answering that question,” Grusch replied. “I directed people with that knowledge to the appropriate authorities.” 

Asked by Rep. Anna Luna (R-FL) if, in recent years, he had experienced instances that made him concerned for his life for addressing the issue of UAP, Grusch once again answered, “Yes. Personally,”

In his statement posted online late on Thursday, Kirkpatrick responded to Grusch’s claims that individuals had been harmed in efforts to keep information on UAP secret. 

“AARO was established, by law, to investigate the allegations and assertions presented in yesterday’s hearing,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

“Allegations by its witnesses of retaliation, to include physical assault and hints of murder, are extraordinarily serious, which is why law enforcement is a critical member of the AARO team, specifically to address and take swift action should anyone come forward with such claims.” 

Without specifically naming Grusch, Kirkpatrick seemingly conveyed doubt over the former intelligence officer-turned-whistleblower’s claims of reprisals and extrajudicial violence, suggesting Grusch had refused to speak with AARO investigators. 

“Yet, contrary to assertions made in the hearing, the central source of those allegations has refused to speak with AARO,” Kirkpatrick wrote. 

It is unclear whether Kirkpatrick was referring to Grusch refusing to speak with AARO about incidents of reprisal or his previous work with the UAPTF, which reportedly included uncovering programs involved with the retrieval and reverse engineering of “non-human craft.” If the latter, it would directly contradict portions of the testimony provided by Grusch during Wednesday’s hearing. 

Grusch told Rep. Luna on Wednesday that he had briefed Kirkpatrick on the UAP evidence, including additional details that remain classified. 

“[He] and I had a classified conversation in April 2022 before he took over AARO in July 2022,” Grusch said. “And I provided him with some concerns I might have had.” Kirkpatrick reportedly never followed up after this initial conversation.

“I wish he did. I was happy to give sage counsel on where to look when he took the helm of AARO,” Grusch replied. 

Grusch also disputed statements previously made by Kirkpatrick during a hearing hosted by the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities earlier this year. 

During opening remarks of the April Senate hearing, Kirkpatrick said, “I should also state clearly for the record that in our research, AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics.” 

When asked by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) if Kirkpatrick’s statement was correct, Grusch said during Wednesday’s hearing that this was “not accurate.”

Grusch attempted to elaborate on why he said AARO has received evidence of “extraterrestrial” or “off-world technology” by explaining that he had personally interviewed witnesses who had spoken with AARO. However, he was cut off at this point by Rep. Foxx, who said she had to move on from this point. 

In light of the contradictions between Grusch’s testimony and earlier statements by Kirkpatrick on behalf of AARO, The Debrief reached out to the office of Charles McCullough, the attorney independently representing Grusch according to sources we spoke with on background, but did not receive a response as of the time of publication.

McCullough was seen seated behind Grusch during this week’s hearing, as reported on Wednesday by The Debrief, and also appeared alongside him in images appearing online after the hearing (furthest left, seated beside David Grusch in the image Tweeted by Ryan Graves seen below).

In the statement posted on LinkedIn Thursday, Kirkpatrick admonished lawmakers for making it appear as though AARO was delinquent in carrying out its legislated mission. 

“The Subcommittee, whose questions and oversight duties are irreproachable and in genuine need of answers, has never asked AARO for an update on the reporting system, the historical review, the operations, and the S&T strategy that AARO leads and is undertaking,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

“A rational person watching the hearing might reasonably assume that both the witnesses and the members had an understanding of the Department’s and the IC’s progress since the establishment of AARO around this time last year, only naturally leading them to conclude that AARO has been ineffective, non-transparent, and delinquent in its legislated mission.” 

“AARO briefs the Defense and Intel committees regularly, and since the last NDAA, the Homeland Defense, S&T and several other committees as well,” Kirkpatrick added. 

 In a stunning move by a senior civil-service official, Kirkpatrick also questioned “Congressional elements’” commitment to transparency and accused these “elements” of withholding evidence from AARO. 

“Furthermore, some information reportedly provided to Congress has not been provided to AARO, raising additional questions about the true commitment to transparency by some Congressional elements,” Kirkpatrick wrote. 

A central concern expressed in Kirkpatrick’s critique was the perceived degradation of AARO during the subcommittee hearing. 

“I am deeply disappointed at the denigration of AARO’s dedicated men and women hailing from the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and Civil partners who are pouring their hearts out working this issue on the behalf of Congress,” Kirkpatrick wrote. 

“AARO has the authorities and resources necessary to execute this mission to meet Congressional intent, and as we’ve stated before, AARO welcomes anyone with knowledge of any of these allegations or programs to talk to us in a safe, secure, and appropriately cleared environment. Rest assured, AARO will follow the data wherever it leads.” 

Additionally, Kirkpatrick clarified that none of the witnesses at the hearing had ever served as representatives of AARO. “ To be clear, none of the whistleblowers from yesterday’s hearing ever worked for AARO or was ever a representative to AARO, contrary to statements made in testimony and in the media,” Kirkpatrick wrote in a series of comments apparently directed at Grush.

“I was my agency’s co-lead in Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) and transmedium object analysis, as well as reporting to UAP Task Force (UAPTF) and eventually the All Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), once it was established,” Grusch said during his opening statements on Wednesday. 

Speaking with The Debrief on background, a source familiar with this matter clarified that Grusch had not served directly as a part of AARO, although he was responsive for UAP tasking as the UAP co-lead during his tenure with the NGA, which entailed inclusion in all NGA UAP tasking by AARO.

In his statement issued Thursday, Kirkpatrick closed by doubling down on his previous statements to Congress.

“Finally, to be clear, AARO has yet to find any credible evidence to support the allegations of any reverse engineering program for non-human technology.” 

The Debrief reached out to the Pentagon for additional clarification on Kirkpatrick’s statements, and in a response late on Friday, Pentagon spokeswoman Susan Gough told The Debrief late on Friday that the DoD knew about Kirkpatrick’s statement.

“The Department is aware of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s post, which are his personal opinions expressed in his capacity as a private citizen and we won’t comment directly on the contents of the post,” Gough told The Debrief in an email.

“We do want to reinforce the Department’s unwavering commitment to openness and accountability to the American people and Congress. The dedicated military service members, civilian personnel, and federal contractors who support AARO’s efforts are deserving of the full confidence of our lawmakers and the American public.”

“While much remains to be done to fulfill AARO’s mandate, AARO’s committed team has made great progress since its establishment only a year ago,” Gough said.

On Thursday, a joint statement attributed to Lue Elizondo and Jay Stratton was also issued, in which they praised the participation of the witnesses during Wednesday’s hearing.

Yesterday we proudly watched the fire continue to grow in a momentous Congressional UAP hearing. Our brave friends and colleagues, former Naval Aviators Ryan Graves and Dave Fravor, and former Air Force Intelligence Officer / UP Task Force member Dave Grusch, offered themselves up as witnesses, and spoke under oath about the topic to members of Congress and the public,” a portion of the joint statement read.

The statement was shared by Elizondo, a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent, and Stratton, the former Director of the UAP Task Force, on Stratton’s official Twitter account.

We are grateful for all those who participated,” the statement added. 

This article was updated to include a statement from Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough, and to add relevant quotes from a statement that appeared online jointly co-authored by Lue Elizondo and Jay Stratton. Additional quotes from sources The Debrief has reached out to may also be included in future updates to this reporting. 

Tim McMillan is a retired law enforcement executive, investigative reporter and co-founder of The Debrief. His writing typically focuses on defense, national security, the Intelligence Community and topics related to psychology. You can follow Tim on Twitter: @LtTimMcMillan.  Tim can be reached by email: or through encrypted email: 

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on Twitter: @MicahHanks