MITRE (MIT REsearch) is a weapons and counterinsurgency research center that was spun off from MIT in 1958. The original purpose of MITRE was to continue to support MIT’s weapons research – notably on the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system – in a “nonprofit” setting, by building on work done at MIT’s other weapons development center, Lincoln Laboratory. Stuart Leslie describes the rationale behind MITRE’s founding in The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford (1993),
To prevent Lincoln from becoming just another industrial support contractor, MIT spun off MITRE (MIT Research) in 1958 as a nonprofit corporation with “systems engineering” responsibility for SAGE, essentially coordinating the various technical subsystems and industrial contractors. About a third of Lincoln’s professional staff transferred to the new enterprise. (The Cold War and American Science, p. 39).
MITRE is a major weapons development center for American empire, with primary locations in Massachusetts and Virginia, and secondary locations across the US as well as in Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, and the UK. MITRE’s utterly creepy website describes some of their work in sanitized terms (“Mission-focused Research” a euphemism for developing tools for war), and pepped with items about promoting “Social Justice.” Some of MITRE’s pages are more honest about the agenda, which they describe as follows:
Our goal is to help the U.S. sustain technical superiority over foreign and domestic adversaries, operating across all levels of scale, from terrorism and transnational threats to hybrid warfare and peer-to-peer conflicts. We support all warfighting domains, with an emphasis on integrated solutions that span multiple domains. Our researchers work to rapidly deliver innovative answers to government problems, both through internal development efforts and external partnerships with academia, industry, and government labs.
MITRE says that to advance this mission of maintaining US political and economic hegemony, they are working on things such as: “Resilient communications for assured command and control,” “Robust positioning, navigation, and timing,” and “Command and control of multi-domain operations.”
MITRE explicitly says that its mission is “Protecting North America” and that it is working closely with the NORTHCOM wing of the US military, including on bringing the US military closer to “domestic activities.” As described on MITRE’s page:
“MITRE’s been involved in prototyping, testing, and improving military response capabilities for NORTHCOM for a few decades now,” says [Kevin] Garlock, who leads integration of our homeland defense work across the company. (Although the word “homeland” is often associated with the Department of Homeland Security, the DoD plays an important role as well). “These capabilities provide the baseline to enable the military to operate with its forces and with civilian authorities. It’s a mission born after 9/11 that continues to grow to this day.”
MITRE is one of the largest recipients of Pentagon funding in Massachusetts. According to USASpending.gov records, MITRE has received at least $2.6 billion from the US Defense Department between 2001 and 2021.