National Intelligence, Special Operations Museum Planned in Loudoun County

National Intelligence, Special Operations Museum Planned in Loudoun County

A Loudoun County site has been selected for a museum that publicly recognizes the efforts of American heroes who served in the shadows.

The National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations is planned as part of the Kincora property, a 434-acre, mixed-used development planned along Pacific Boulevard near the intersection of Routes 7 and 28.

The museum is a joint effort of the OSS Society and Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. Its slogan: Telling America’s Greatest Untold Story.

According to Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society, they expect to have a lease signed very soon and are on target to open the museum in 2020.

“I have been working on it for at least seven years now,” Pinck said. “The vision has evolved quite a bit since I first had the idea. It is still kind of evolving now.”

According to Pinck, the OSS Society was started in New York City in 1947 by Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan in 1947. The original name was Veterans of the OSS, which was this country’s spy and special operations agency during World War II.

“Not just the CIA, but the Green Berets and every component of our intelligence and special operations traces its origins to the OSS,” Pinck said. “The Navy SEALs started as the OSS Maritime Unit.”

Pinck said his father was in the OSS, and that’s why he is involved. With most of the original OSS members dying off, Pinck said the groups was reorganized under its current name and moved from New York to Washington, D.C.

The museum plans show a huge, glass-enclosed structure that will be a striking addition to Kincora and the Route 28 corridor.

Designed by renowned architectural firm Fentress Architects, this ribbed form also echoes the feathered beauty of an American bald eagle’s wing. The 67,000-square-foot museum features a variety of exhibition and event spaces including:

  • A 4,000-square-foot lobby and flexible event space

  • 19,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space

  • An education center equipped with flexible learning spaces for hosting student and corporate groups.

  • A 200-seat multifunctional space which can be used for films, forums, lectures and other events.

Pinck said similarities to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle are not coincidental. The Marine museum represents the raising of the American flag atop Mout Suribachi on Iwo Jima. NMISO will also abstractly represent the mission of the people it honors.

“The architect is the same one who did the Marines museum,” he said. “The building’s shape is a spear-head, which symbolizes the intelligence and special ops units – the tip of the spear.”

Within the galleries, exhibits will use a mix of both “high” and “low” technologies, such as interactive touch tables, hands-on activities and artifact-based exhibits. Augmented reality simulations, real-life “escape rooms” and other cutting-edge methods will immerse visitors in the experience.

Along with the story of American intelligence and special operations, other topics will explore the evolution of technology, the balance between privacy and security, and cyber warfare. A temporary exhibition space will ensure that content is topical and relevant.

Buddy Rizer, executive director of Loudoun County Economic Development, said the museum will be yet another asset to make Loudoun County attractive.

“These are the kinds of things we are very excited about being able to bring to Loudoun County,” Rizer said. “It furthers the wholeness of our community and adds to the way we are able to grow in different ways.
“We think this is a great location for it. It will be a regional if not a nation-wide attraction.”

Spying on one’s enemies and secretly penetrating behind enemy lines dates back to the beginning of human conflict. The first organized and sanctioned efforts by the United States started with Donovan and the OSS during World War II.

Donovan put together a group of people with unique abilities and training to gather information and even trick or deceive the nation’s Axis enemies.

“A Ph.D. who can handle himself in a bar fight,” was Donovan’s famous description of the ideal candidate.

Pinck has garnered the support of some of the most prominent names in special operations community, with Robert M. Gates, William H. McRaven and Leon E. Panetta listed as honorary chairmen of the NMISO Campaign Steering Committee.

Gates is the only American to serve as secretary of defense under two consecutive presidents from different political parties – George W. Bush and Barack Obama. McRaven was a Navy admiral who served as commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. Panetta was secretary of defense, chief of staff for President Clinton and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993.

“We have plans for a beautiful building, a great location and three of the most recognizable names in the intelligence community,” Pinck said. “They have put their names to it because they think it is a worthy cause. “The last thing, once we get the leased finalized, is raising the money. We are putting together the fund-raising campaign right now.”

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Joseph Dill