The Afghan War Diary, made avail­able by the Wik­ileaks group, is the dis­clo­sure of inter­nal US Mil­i­tary logs. Wik­ileaks has been known to release data that con­tains lat­i­tu­di­nal and lon­gi­tu­di­nal infor­ma­tion use­ful for spa­tial analy­sis. I’ve taken the lib­erty to map the some-76,000 mil­i­tary logs.

The mil­i­tary logs are a col­lec­tion of top secret clas­si­fied cor­re­spon­dences that detail var­i­ous mil­i­tary encoun­ters and sit­u­a­tional reports. Some of the most pop­u­lar head­ings in the log are: ene­mies killed/wounded in action, friend­lies killed/wounded in action and report­ing unit (squad/other).

Enemies killed in action

To map the Afghan War Diary, I first down­loaded the raw data from Wik­ileaks, and cleaned up the head­ings so that they would be in the proper for­mat for a spa­tial data­base. You can view and down­load the clean data here by choos­ing the “Down­load This Data” but­ton in the upper right-hand cor­ner. You will notice that the data is hosted on Car­toDB, which is how I have cre­ated the map below! Essen­tially, Car­toDB pro­vides a host­ing solu­tion for geo­graphic data, as well as the abil­ity to styl­ize the the­matic con­tent using carto (css) for maps!

This map dis­plays the amount of ene­mies killed in action per report/correspondence by the mil­i­tary. I’ve used grad­u­ated sym­bols to pro­por­tion­ally rep­re­sent the amount of ene­mies killed (larger sym­bols = more deaths). Fur­ther, opac­ity and layer blend­ing was used to achieve the bright hot-spot effect, which high­lights areas where mul­ti­ple reports have been sub­mit­ted. See the carto (css) markup code below for a bet­ter indi­ca­tion of how the map was cre­ated (or if you want to repli­cate the effect yourself!).

/** bubble visualization */
  marker-fill: #FF5F6F;
  marker-line-color: #FFF;
  marker-line-width: .1;
  marker-line-opacity: 1;
  marker-opacity: 0.1;
  marker-comp-op: screen;
  marker-placement: point;
  marker-type: ellipse;
  marker-allow-overlap: true;
  marker-clip: false;
  marker-multi-policy: largest;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 181] {
   marker-width: 64.0;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 95] {
   marker-width: 32.4;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 50] {
   marker-width: 28.8;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 26] {
   marker-width: 25.4;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 14] {
   marker-width: 21.8;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 8] {
   marker-width: 18.2;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 5] {
   marker-width: 14.6;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 3] {
   marker-width: 11.2;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 2] {
   marker-width: 7.6;
#afghan_war_diary_ekia [ enemy_kia <= 1] {
   marker-width: 3.0;

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Thank you!

  4 Responses to “Mapping the Afghan War Diary”

  1. Hi Michael, just seen your amaz­ing global flight paths map­ping images on the BBC web­site. Do you have plans to make them avail­able to the pub­lic? I’d love to get some prints — they’re incred­i­ble images!

  2. Hi Michael , flight paths, great images. Are they avail­able to use, please contact

  3. check Car­toDB record 4921 / its show­ing data in the Gulf of Guinea off of West Africa.

  4. […] Spa­tial Analy­sis – Map­ping the Afghan War Diary […]

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