Army

July 3, 2014

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

From left, Don Blascak, Charlotte Borghardt, Jim Chambers and Bruce Saunders stand in front of the Intelligence Museum Foundation’s inventory in 1989.

One year ago, in July 2013, the responsibility for the Army Intelligence Museum located on Fort Huachuca was transferred to the Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC, from the Installation Management Command.

It was the culmination of a long and frustrating journey for the world’s only museum dedicated to Army Intelligence. The story began in 1971 when the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School moved from Fort Holabird, Maryland, to Fort Huachuca.

Three years later, on Oct. 10, 1974, the Army’s assistant chief of staff for Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Harold Aaron, cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Army Intelligence Museum. The MI Sphinx proudly stood guard outside, welcoming more than 500 visitors to the museum to see 400 artifacts on display.

There were plans to build more cases and put more artifacts in exhibits in upcoming months. Unfortunately, the fort lost the position of museum curator, and the museum closed on July 24, 1976, after less than two years. The Sphinx moved to Riley Barracks, the new headquarters of the Intel Center and School.

The command planned to reopen the museum in 1977 under the control of the Directorate of Training. That never happened, and the final disposition of the artifacts that were in that museum remains a mystery today. It is likely they remained in storage for a number of years before being shipped off to various other installations and historical holdings. The next big push for the Army Intelligence Museum would have to wait a decade.

On March 3, 1987, during the preparations for the creation of the MI Corps, Maj. Gen. Julius Parker approved the concept of establishing an MI Corps Museum at Fort Huachuca. The concept included the addition of a curator to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School, or USAICS, staff as soon as possible to begin acquiring artifacts of Army Intelligence. Until a museum facility could be built, the artifacts would be displayed in locations throughout the USAICS training complex.

At the same time, a group of retirees, active duty Soldiers, and intelligence Civilians formed an association to raise funds for the construction and maintenance of a museum facility at Fort Huachuca. Called the Intelligence Museum Foundation, it was a private, nonprofit organization headed by retired Col. Donald Blascak. Within the first year, membership had grown to 1,000 and assets totaled more than $25,000.

USAICS identified a location for an actual museum site at the corner of Hatfield and Irwin Streets and had an artist draw a concept of the proposed building. Gift items were offered through local sales from the rear of the Brigade Conference Room, eventually moving operations to the Staff Duty Office. The sales operations were open for business three days per week.

With the actions of the Base Realignment and Closure, BRAC, act moving forward and with TRADOC assuming ownership of Fort Huachuca on Oct. 1, 1990, there was increased hope that an MI Museum could be established in a temporary location before its permanent structure was completed.

Again, forward momentum was stalled by events outside of anyone’s control. In 1993, the command historian departed and the already understaffed museum director picked up the historian’s tasks as additional duties. Efforts continued to find a suitable building to house the MI artifacts, but no progress was made.

In 1994, the commander met with key members of both the Intelligence Museum Foundation and the Huachuca Museum Society, to discuss enlarging the scope of the Intelligence Museum Foundation to become a fraternal MI organization with the additional goal of building a museum.

The original Army Intelligence Museum is shown on Jeffords Street, Fort Huachuca, in 1975.

The Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence was tasked with preparing a study outlining the advantages and disadvantages of such a reorganization. The decision was made to disband the Museum Foundation because of its narrow scope, and stand up a new organization — the MI Corps Association, or MICA, whose mission was to promote Military Intelligence through a variety of programs including support to the Army Intelligence Museum. Charlotte Borghardt had the arduous task of notifying all 1,000 members and turning over all assets and inventory to the new MICA organization.

The MI historian was notified in 1994 that building 41411 would be vacated by the Print Plant in 1995 and become available for the MI historical holding. The project would involve a major physical move, complete renovation, and exhibit design and construction.

When the building was finally turned over on Aug. 14, 1995, renovation began immediately with $20,000 coming from the funds raised by the Museum Foundation and turned over to MICA. It was completed in time for the Nov. 2, 1995 opening and dedication ceremony presided over by Brig. Gen. John Smith, deputy commanding general, and attended by more than 200 invited dignitaries from Fort Huachuca and the local community. The museum finally had a physical home, but it still had a long way to go.

Over the next several years there were numerous attempts to increase the status of the MI historical holding to an accredited museum. Things really began to change in 2013 with the transfer of all the post’s museum holdings to the operational control of USAICoE. As a result, both the Fort Huachuca and the Army Intelligence Museums were placed under the Directorate of Training Development and Support of USAICoE.

Both TRADOC and USAICoE have committed considerable funding to repair, renovate, and improve the facilities and exhibits. Work has already begun on the Post Museum. The MI Museum will be relocated and redesigned into a new facility co-located with the MI library, which will bring the museum closer to the Soldiers. All in all, five separate buildings will receive remodeling and reconfiguring. Work will begin on the new museum space in September and the tentative plan is to dedicate a new MI Museum during the 2015 MI Hall of Fame ceremonies in June 2015. The history of the Army Intelligence Museum is filled with ups and downs, but it is not finished yet; exciting changes are coming!




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