Military Industrial Complex

What is the Military Industrial Complex?

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 02/2013

Attempting to define the "Military Industrial Complex".

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Dwight Eisenhower Military Industrial Complex Farewell Address
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Military-Industrial Complex is an unofficial phrase used to signify the "comfortable" relationship that can develop between government forces and defense-minded organizations. This union can produce benefits for both sides - warplanners receiving the tools necessary for waging an effective war while furthering political interests abroad while defense contractors are the recipients of lucrative deals.


War for profit is not exclusive to modern times for it drove the best and worst of old Europe for many years - perhaps best exemplified by the naval arms race between France, Spain and Britain. The driving force behind these initiatives was generally in out-doing a potential foe and, therefore, establishing a large standing military force to counter the moves of a potential enemy. The modern interpretation of this as it relates to the Military-Industrial Complex is slightly altered in that the established military force is now utilized to further global interests - the enemy is no longer another nation per se but any organization not in line with presented ideals.


At any rate, the theory of a mutually beneficial relationship existing between warplanners and industry is not unfounded for there is much money to be made in the design and development process of military goods which precede lucrative production commitments. As such, a defense contractor can be the recipient of multiple contracts during the life of a single product leading many of the top firms to constantly outdo competitors in attempting to maintain their own respective bottom lines in the boardroom.


The phrase Military-Industrial Complex was first used in an American report at the turn of the 20th Century and later immortalized by outgoing United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation. In his speech, Eisenhower cited the Military-Industrial Complex as a grave warning to the American people based on his experiences of a wartime economy and political environment during and after World War 2 - the warning being to not let the military-industrial establishment dictate America's actions at home or abroad for such unchecked power would begin to usurp the inherent freedoms inherent in the very fabric of our nation. The original usage appeared as Military-Industrial Congressional Complex but this was later revised to exclude the reference to congress.


Our website exists to keep a tally of contracts that are publicly revealed by the United States Department of Defense. We attempt to keep an accurate running value of defense expenditures though the listed contracts do not necessarily present the entire breadth of US defense spending overall. It can, however, be used to present a basic outline and, perhaps, be utilized in predicting the next great American conflict.

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