June 03, 2015

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Mid-Level Leadership

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) ability to produce and train new leaders remains unabated despite years of Yemeni and U.S. counterterrorism operations. AQAP’s resilience stems from its formalized mid-level leadership structure with three components: a chain of command, a training and education program, and a consistent promotion process.

AQAP’s Military Committee administers this mid-level leadership structure, which is divided into governorate commanders and district commanders. The Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate teaches these commanders to learn from its past mistakes and adapt to changing circumstances with a series of classes, videos, and textbooks. AQAP’s promotion process also bolsters its internal cohesion by retaining fighters via a sense of inclusion and opportunities for advancement.