Military-INDUSTRIAL Complex

The Minutemen Missiles in South Dakota are an example of the Cold War economy because of how large a role it played in local and state economics. Creating these hundreds of launch control facilities in South Dakota provided many local businesses to be contracted by the government and military to build all of them. Economically, this generally was a good thing. However, there is always a downside when things are looking too good to be true. The farmers and ranchers in the area were taken advantage of. The government–using math and science to determine where to build these launch facilities and silos–did not have consent of the landowners. They built their facilities wherever they wanted, even if it disrupted crops and grazing land for cattle. One farmer complained that the government built a facility in the middle of his wheat field. He wanted them to at least be courteous and build it in a corner. Because of the disruption of crops and land, farmers and ranchers struggled financially. The few landowners who stood against the government and military were not listened to. Their land was simply stolen from them under the phrase of “eminent domain” (Heefner). This is a stretch but this land grabbing the government did reminds me of land being stolen in the 19th century from Native Americans. If they did not give up their land, it was just stolen from them anyway. At least some of the farmers and ranchers got financial compensation for the selling of their land. Some landowners actually get their land back decades later after the mass decommissioning of all of the launch facilities and silos. 

The building of these silos and facilities is proof of the military-industrial complex because of how extensive the project was. During this time period, over 1,000 launch facilities and silos were built. If that isn’t a military-industrial complex, I do not know what is. During the panic of the Cold War, the military became industrialized for its own protection. Even today, the military has an industrial focus. 

Preserving a silo to be used as part of the National Park Service does seem strange in practice. However, the article writes about how there are historic sites, statues, parks, monuments, and buildings that are all preserved because of war. Why should the Cold War be treated any differently? That time period and the panic that went along with it was real and shared experience for millions of Americans. Also, I think they should have preserved more of the launch facilities. However, I realize it is not up to the government. The decision relied on the landowners before the launch facilities and silos were built. Another thing to think about is the decision to blow them up with TNT. The article writes about how it could have affected water tables and cause damage underground. Moreover, I think that preserving a silo is a great way to remember the impact the Cold War had on America economically, militarily, socially, and culturally.

2 thoughts on “Military-INDUSTRIAL Complex

  1. I agree that the contracts for local businesses were generally good for the economy, but there was a downside to that good. Although the farmers were being taken advantage of, they saw it as a patriotic duty. Also, I agree that it does seem odd to preserve a missile silo, but I think preserving the missile makes the most sense in remembering the Cold War. I think preserving one of the missiles makes it more real that there were actual missiles ready to deploy at any moment in South Dakota. Within minutes the entire west river could have been annihilated. It would have been nice to have preserved more of the launch facilities.


  2. I agree that preserving a missile silo for the national park service is a bit unusual. Why would the United States want to keep something that could have possibly ended life as we know it? As Americans, we like to keep things connected to war times to teach our future generations about what happened in the past. I’m also wondering how the destruction of these silos will affect the ground underneath. Is there going to be pollution in their water supply forever now if they use a water well to get their water? The thing that I wished happened was that the government kept more of these silos intact because it would show to the general public how close and ready, we as Americans were to war.


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