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Critical item list (CIL)

Definition A Critical Item List (CIL) in military operations refers to a list or registry of items, resources, or components that are essential for the operational readiness of a military unit, system, or piece of equipment. The items on this list are considered crucial because their unavailability, destruction, or disruption may critically impact the functionality […]


A Critical Item List (CIL) in military operations refers to a list or registry of items, resources, or components that are essential for the operational readiness of a military unit, system, or piece of equipment. The items on this list are considered crucial because their unavailability, destruction, or disruption may critically impact the functionality or performance of the relevant military system. The CIL is key for effective logistical planning and strategic preparation in the military.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Critical Item List (CIL) is a list in military operations that prioritizes and identifies equipment, materiel, or parts that are essential for the system’s readiness and operational capability.
  2. CIL is often used to manage and control resources effectively. It aids in the efficient planning and execution of military logistics, ensuring that the most necessary items are available when needed.
  3. The composition of the CIL may change depending on the nature of a mission, operational environment, or strategic needs. Therefore, it requires constant monitoring and updating to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in supporting military operations.


The term Critical Item List (CIL) is of great importance in military operations as it allows for efficient and effective resource management.

This list details all crucial equipment, resources, or supplies necessary for the successful completion of a specific military mission or operation.

With the help of a well-compiled CIL, military leaders can ensure tactical readiness, as well as streamline the planning and execution process.

It significantly reduces the risk of operational failure by minimizing surprises or shortages of vital resources in crucial moments.

Thus, the CIL plays an integral role in upholding both operational efficiency and success in military contexts.


The purpose of a Critical Item List (CIL) within military operations is to identify and prioritize all the important operational components of the system that are absolutely necessary for the whole system to function properly and efficiently. It involves a systematic and technical strategy in closely monitoring the status and operational abilities of different units, supplies, equipment, or resources in the military.

Its main objective is to ensure that these critical items remain functional and available to ensure continued operational capability, regardless of the situation. The CIL is used as a tool to facilitate effective and efficient resource management and logistical planning within military operations.

It allows for better planning and coordination of resources to prevent possible disruptions to operations due to the scarcity or failure of critical items. Military leaders use CILs to prioritize maintenance, repair, and procurement activities and to plan ahead for redundancy and contingencies if a critical item were to be damaged or become unavailable.

Therefore, CIL serves as an integral part of strategic planning in military operations, ensuring uninterrupted operations, and enhancing the overall operational resilience and readiness.

Examples of Critical item list (CIL)

Operation Desert Storm, 1991: During this operation, the US military had a thorough Critical Item List (CIL) to maintain optimal readiness of their resources. Key items on this list included strategic weaponry, essential logistical assets, and critical battlefield technology. The CIL was crucial for the successful execution of missions, allowing the soldiers to ensure that all vital equipment was in place and functioning correctly.

Afghanistan conflict, 2001-Present: The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan requires the American Military to constantly adapt and update its CIL. Key items in this context would include adaptive terrains vehicles, protective gear for soldiers, night vision capabilities, and technology for remote operations. These items are crucial to supporting the military’s activities in the challenging environmental and combat conditions of the Afghan conflict.

COVID-19 Pandemic response, 2020-2021: The US military was heavily involved in the pandemic response, both domestically and abroad. A CIL for this effort would contain items not usually found on traditional military operations lists, such as medical supplies, vehicles for transport of medical equipment, and protective gear for medics. This ensured that the military units involved had all the equipment necessary for the safe and effective completion of their missions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Critical Item List (CIL)

What is the Critical Item List (CIL)?

The Critical Item List (CIL) in military terms refers to a carefully curated list of items or resources deemed essential for a particular mission or operation. This list often includes essential equipment, documentation, personnel, and other necessary assets.

Who creates the CIL in a military operation?

The CIL is usually created by the operation planning team. This includes strategists, tacticians, and other relevant personnel who are tasked with creating, reviewing, and finalizing operational plans.

What is the primary purpose of the CIL?

The main purpose of the CIL is to help streamline the process of planning and executing a military operation. By defining what is crucial for the success of the mission, the team can ensure that every necessary provision is made available, enhancing efficiency and reducing the chances of mission failure.

Can a CIL be modified during an operation?

Yes, the CIL can be modified as circumstances require. Factors such as unforeseen challenges, threat level changes, or evolution of objective can necessitate a review and update of the CIL during an operation.

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Sources for More Information

  • The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD A&S): This office is responsible for the oversight of Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition including, among others, the acquisition logistics and supply chain management. They might provide official definitions and guidance related to the Critical Item List (CIL).
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): This is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of Congress. They conduct audits of government agencies, which can include definitions and practices involving Critical Item Lists (CIL).
  • Defense Acquisition University (DAU): DAU is a higher learning institution that provides training, career management, and services to enable the Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics community within the DoD to make smart business decisions and deliver timely and affordable capabilities to the warfighter. They could offer training materials or courses that cover Critical Item Lists (CIL).
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): DTIC is the largest central resource for DoD and government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information. DTIC collections might include relevant paperwork, reports, or research related to Critical Item Lists (CIL).

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