Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Iraq and Al Qaeda

The highly respected International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based military think tank, has just released The Military Balance, an annual report on the military capabilities of the world's states and non-state actors. The report asserts that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has aided Al Qaeda's recruitment efforts and that, at present, there are over 18,000 Al Qaeda sympathizers scattered throughout 60 countries. Al Qaeda is still "a viable and effective 'network of networks,'" in the words of the report.

The Military Balance also notes that Al Qaeda now requires less money to operate and that its funds are being handled in a manner that is more difficult to track.

In an observation with direct relevance to the ongoing debate in the United States over the prospects for a draft, Christopher Langton, the editor of the report, said that post-conflict military operations were "manpower-intensive, as the human component replaces the weapon system as the key enabler to success." Furthermore the use of reservists who have not had the proper training for the roles they are being asked to fill can create problems, as the Abu Ghraib scandal demonstrated.

The Guardian provides details here.