U.S. Military Goes from Perpetual Non-Readiness to Military-Industrial Complex in Cold War
In order to understand the nature of the United States Military-Industrial Complex, a phrase coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a career Army officer who commanded the Allied Armed Forces In North Africa and then in vital June 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy, France whose success ensured Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender less than a year later. From the very beginning of the United States, actually before the beginning during the American Revolution, the central government has seldom been ready for war. In fact democracies seldom prepare for war, they have war forced upon them by totalitarian regimes who have prepared for conflict.
In both World Wars, the First more than the Second, the United States was woefully unprepared in manpower and equipment to fight a major conflict. Think of General Washington at Valley Forge as the unpaid soldiers froze with little food, tattered uniforms, worn down o no shoes and what seemed no support from the nascent government to keep the fight going. Think of President Lincoln at the beginning of the Civil War as the green troops ran from Bull Run and the Confederate forces threatened to march on Washington, D.C.
In August 1914 the First World War began and three years of stalemate battles went on without a decisive result when, in 1917, the United States entered on the side of Allies, France and Great Britain, against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. But while war had become more technologically intense with fighter aircraft, bombers, giant airships, tanks, submarines and machine guns, the U.S. possesed neither the industrial capacity to produce the required equipment to train their inexperienced troops, which were being drafted, let alone the skilled troops to fight a well-equipped and experienced Germany Army. Americans who had never left their farms or traveled even a few miles from their homes in cities and towns were about to enter the cauldron of a kind of war never experienced in history.
Such a situation forced the U.S. government to go begging to their wartime partners for the latest weapons to train and fight with as the industrial capacity was assembled back home. The Americans learned fast but the fighting was brutal, with many mistakes made by leaders with no experience leading troops in combat, especially this kind of combat, when finally in November 1918 the Central Powers were strangled into military, economic and political defeat.
Blockades had taken a toll on food supplies in Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm was forced to abdicate his throne as the Imperial Germany forces crumbled from the bottom up and top down. Not even the exit of Russia from the war, in 1917, which was fighting with Great Britain and France from the Eastern Front, had helped Germany stem the tide against eventual defeat.
The U.S. troops returned home as the seeds of the next and even more destructive conflict were being sown as squabbling Allies, an incomplete victory over Imperial Germany, a flawed peace agreement and a dysfunctional League of Nations left too much to chance. This is, of course, a rather a simplistic explanation, but this is not the place for a detailed analysis of why the peace failed to prevent another war a generation brought the age of European dominance to an end and ushered in a really bizarre new world.
After the First World War the starkest lesson for the U.S. government, and armed forces, was to never get caught without the industrial ability to manufacture the most up to date and necessary implements to wage a victorious war and for that conflict to be fought on foreign soil. A large standing Army was never intended by the Founding Fathers and had always been a contentious issue throughout American history.
The 1920’s and 1930’s saw a series of government proposals put forth to ensure military industrial readiness, even if the troops would have to drafted and trained for service in rapid fashion. What evolved for World War Two was a central planning behemoth which oversaw the equipping and training of not only over 11-million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen of the United States Armed Forces but the virtual supply of Allies all over the world with massive amounts of trucks, tanks, boots, shovels, guns, ships of every shape and size, landing craft of all different kinds for beach assaults, aircraft big and small, food, jeeps, armored personnel carriers, money, tractors, bulldozers, soil compactors, steel plating for makeshift airfields, staff cars, train cars, chocolate bars, cigarettes, clothing of every description, nylon stockings, pipes, rubber, oil, gasoline, spare parts, artillery, bullets, bazookas, rifles, pistols, machine guns, bombs, artillery shells, spare engines, medical supplies, tents, cots, bedding, copper, steel, iron, metal, aluminum, dynamite, tires, whiskey, beer, ice cream, chewing gum, newspapers, radios, music, entertainment, movies, records, phonographs, paint, disposable cameras, movie cameras, barbed wire, wood, ideas and, after over 60-million people had been killed and much of the world destroyed, complete victory.over the Axis powers.
The Cold and Hot War with Communists Around the World After Victory in World War Two as Soviet Occupy Eastern Europe & Want More
As with all wars fought by democracies, it was time for the soldiers to come home and for industry to return to the peaceful pursuits of civilian life. Then the Korean War broke out in June 1950 and it was time, after many years of provocations, the West was going to be locked in a long and strange Cold War against the Communist blocs forming around the world. Stalin’s Soviet Union had swallowed Eastern Europe, in violation of wartime agreements and Communist China was on the move after the Nationalists abandoned the mainland. Thus it became time to keep improving military equipment, time to build more nuclear weapons, time to keep the manufacturers engaged in pumping out more planes, ships, tanks and guns and time to keep military bases operational around the United States and the world.
Thus the United States Military Industrial Complex was created and it would remain virtually intact until after the collapse of the Soviet Union, December 1991, and the defeat of Iraq in the first Gulf War earlier in that same year. Much of the industrial base is still in tact, but many military bases and industrial capacity has gone away and even more in years of deep cuts from the two Obama Administrations from 2008 to 2016.
As of this writing, in June 2016, it is becoming obvious the United States Military needs to be rebuilt on a variety of fronts as the world grows more dangers ever day.
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