The Military-Industrial Landscape

The military-industrialization of the North American economy occupies a vast physical footprint across the continent. Over the past 250 years, military activity has expanded from the marshalling of men, animals and weapons to complex conglomerates involving mechanized logistics, manufacturing, and strategic stockpiling. From the initial period of colonization to the end of the 19th century, military activity in the United States concentrated on patterns of acquisition and holding of continental territory, towards the establishment of national sovereignty and political independence. Following the beginning of the 20th century, the expansion of U.S. interests abroad, together with the mass-industrialization of warfare, led to new strategies of engagement and greater expansion of America\’s footprint. Advancements in aviation, radar technology, ballistics, geodetics and chemicals, have drastically reshaped both military strategies and operations that have, by necessity, played out on a continental and global scale. Prior to the Second World War, military agencies operated on less than 3 million acres of American land. Twenty years later, at the height of the Cold War, that figure grew to more than 30 million acres, putting the country in the grip of a process now recognized as military sprawl. Since World War II, America\’s urban and economic landscape has also undergone a profound transformation, leaving indelible marks across the country, around cities and throughout countrysides. The effects of this change can be seen in the rise of the Cold War military-industrial complex predicted and popularized by Eisenhower in the early 1960s, the decline of the traditional industrial heartland of the Northeast in the 1980s, and the emergence of new high tech industrial complexes in California, Texas, Boston, and Florida. The rise of the Gunbelt in the America South demonstrates that this economic restructuring is also the result of a nascent corporate-military-industrial renaissance premised on defense corporations, Pentagon networks and proxy wars. Today, the United States manages a global real estate portfolio consisting of more than 539,0000 facilities (buildings and structures) located on more than 5,570 sites, a worldwide footprint that, according to the Department of Defense, includes all 50 states, 7 U.S. territories, and 38 foreign countries. With a budget of well over 500 billion U.S. dollars and a portfolio of nearly 30 million acres of lands across the world, the U.S. Department of Defense is well established as the largest contractor and land developer in the world. Re-examining the dramatic growth of this vast complex, this course explores the landscape of military-industrialization in the U.S. and abroad to better understand its scale, its extents, its magnitude and its influence on contemporary urbanization and ecology. In its first segment, the course profiles the spatial ideologies and geographic effects of planning theories that led to a series of shifts in the 20th century. Tracking the historic evolution of the military-industrial complex by surveying a series of wartime ideologies (from territorial fortification and peace time buildup, to controlled testing and master planning, to operational concurrency and planned obsolescence, to defensive dispersal and distributed communications) as well as industrial modes of production (from factory towns and suburbs, to highway planning to resource extraction, to deployment logistics and decentralized manufacturing, to energy development and waste containment) that have prevailed for well over two centuries. The discussion will further explore the simultaneity and synchronicity between wartime strategies and urban economies, in the background of military keynesianism and guns-vs.-butter debates. Profiling the evolution of organizations such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Navy Sea Bees, the A&M Universities, the US Air Force, the RAND Corporation, the US E