The Militarily Critical Technologies List
(MCTL) is a detailed compendium of information on technologies which the Department of
Defense assesses as critical to maintaining superior U.S. military capabilities. The MCTL
contains definitions of thresholds that make technology militarily critical. The
acquisition of any of these technologies by a potential adversary would lead to the
significant enhancement of the military-industrial capabilities of that adversary to the
detriment of U.S. security interests. It includes, for example, technologies associated
with the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile delivery
The MCTL provides us all with a greater
degree of sophistication and sensitivity about what technology must be protected and what
may be freely exchanged with our foreign counterparts. The majority of the MCTL
technologies are dual use technologies, which means they can be used for both military and
civilian applications. A foreign intelligence collector may use alleged civilian use as a
plausible cover for seeking information that has military applications.
The MCTL is the technical foundation for
- Proposals for export control, and for
implementation of licensing and export control policies.
- Pre-publication review of scientific papers
prepared by government, industry and academia.
- Tasking for intelligence collection.
- Research and development planning.
- International technology cooperation and
The overall document is several hundred pages
in length. A hard copy is generally published annually. However, the MCTL is updated
almost daily, so the hard copy should be used only as a general guide. The Department of
State and Department of Commerce should be consulted for up-to-date information relating
to specific cases.
The major technology categories in the MCTL
- Aeronautics systems.
- Armaments and energetic materials.
- Chemical and biological systems.
- Directed and kinetic energy systems.
- Ground systems.
- Guidance, navigation, and vehicle control.
- Information systems.
- Information warfare.
- Manufacturing and fabrication.
- Marine systems.
- Nuclear systems.
- Power systems.
- Sensors and lasers.
- Signature control.
- Space systems.
- Weapons effects and countermeasures.
For each of these technology categories,
there are tables showing country-by country estimates of the general status of
technological capabilities. One can see from these graphics which countries might be in a
position to challenge our technological superiority, and which might be so devoid of
specific critical technologies that they might engage in aggressive and costly
intelligence operations to gain them.
You may access the MCTL on the Internet at
www.dtic.mil/mctl. To obtain a copy of the most recent MCTL, contact the Defense Technical
Information Center (DTIC), 8725 John J. Kingman Rd., Suite 0944, Ft. Belvoir, VA
22060-6218. Telephone: (703) 767-8274.
Based in part on "The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL)," Security
Awareness Bulletin, Number 2-95. Richmond, VA: Department of Defense Security