The military–industrial complex, or military–industrial–congressional complex, comprises the policy and monetary relationships which exist between legislators, national armed forces, and the arms industry that supports them.
These relationships include political contributions, political approval for military spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and oversight of the industry. It is a type of iron triangle. The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 17 January, 1961, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure. In 2011, the United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined.
The term is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as corporations and institutions of the defence contractors, The Pentagon, the Congress and executive branch.
A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guérin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, “an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs.”