University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday September 10, 2010. 03:30 pm. Gugg 205

Peering into the Fog of War: The Geography of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs 2004-2009

John O'Loughlin

Professor of Geography, CU-Boulder ; Faculty Research Associate of IBS

Andrew Linke

Ph.D. Geography 2013, CU-Boulder

Frank Witmer

Ph.D. Geography 2007, CU-Boulder

Nancy Thorwardson

Institute of Behavioral Sciences

A team of U.S. political geographers analyzes the secret Afghanistan war logs released by They offer the chance to examine in detail the dynamics of the conflict in that country. Doing so in a spatial framework is possible because each of the 77,000 events has geographic coordinates and dates. Using cartographic and geostatistical tools, the authors map the changing distribution of the events and compare them to the well-known violent-events ACLED database (see O’Loughlin et al., 2010 in this issue). They conclude that ACLED comprises a representative set of the more comprehensive data in the released files. The released war logs show that the Afghan insurgency spread rapidly in 2008–2009, that the insurgency is moving out of its traditional Pashtun heartlands, and remains mostly rural in location. Hotspot and cluster analysis identifies the key locations of the current war, which indicate that it is relocating to new provinces in Afghanistan while intensifying in the eastern border regions and in the south.