Earlier than that, even. Prior to the Cold War, after every war we fought, we demobilized and greatly shrank our military. E.g. after the Revolutionary War, the Federal military shrank to one regiment of infantry, one of cavalry, a handful of batteries, and a handful of small warships. After the Civil War, we went froma military of hundreds of thousands (probably close to a million, if you add union and confederate militaries together) to one of a few tens of thousands. 11 million under arms during WWII, followed by drastic reductions at the end of the war. The Cold War is really the first time we maintained a sizeable military establishment numbering in the millions for a lengthy period of time – a few decades. And it seems to have created and entrenched a special interest group, one that Eisenhower warned us about. These people lost their meal ticket after the collapse of the USSR, and they spent the next decade or so trying to justify the money flowing to the Pentagon with ridiculous rationales about “Rising Near Peers” and “Full Spectrum Dominance” and how if we invested now and leapfrogged a couple of generations of military technology, we could establish such an insurmountable technological military lead that “Rising Near Peers” wouldnt even try to arms race us. And then 9/11 came along and solved all their problems.