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US Military Global Troop Deployment map

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Here's a map I made based on some data from globalresearch.ca.

Any thoughts?

I would love to make this an online service, but the google data API for maps doesn't seem to be the right solution.



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Nick H

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A few random thoughts. First off, perhaps the title ought to be something like 'Overseas Deployment of US Military Personnel'. Secondly, there should be a date shown for the data (can there still be only about the same number of military personnel deployed in Afghanistan as there are deployed in the UK?).

To me the map doesn't tell a story that is immediately apparent at first sight. It's a difficult one, but I don't think that coloured circles sized to indicate personnel numbers work very well on such a small-scale map, perhaps it would be better to colour and label the countries where personnel are stationed and put the numbers in a table?

Added later: or perhaps rather than a table, how about a pie-chart showing the total number of personnel deployed overseas, with segments representing the number and percentage deployed in each country?

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Michael Karpovage

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I'm a big military enthusiast and of course love maps, so I'm giving you feedback to help present a more professional approach to your product. Please don't take my comments personal.

Just wondering who you are gearing this map toward - what audience do you want to communicate it too? Depending on the purpose and audience there are many improvements you can make. Right now this map doesn't do much for me at all and doesn't present relevant information other than a quick visual. I sort of shrug my shoulders to be honest. I guess I'm looking for a context this map is supposed to be in because it lacks so much information. For a general public audience, you are going to have to label the various countries on the map as a start simply because there are many, many people that are not literate in geography. And that's an understatement. So, you have to make it idiot proof to be blunt. On the flip side, if this map is just to be a quick visual to get a big picture sense like a slide in a presentation to those versed in military matters then the bare bones approach may be fine. If someone is standing up next to this map projected on a screen and explaining the data by narration then you might get by.

You need to give a total figure for all of the military personnel globally. Don't leave it up to the reader to add all those numbers up after deciphering the size of the dots in the legend key. I also would be curious to see how many troops are based in the U.S.! As an American, it would be great to get up to date information as to how many troops are based on home soil and compare that to how many abroad. And are you including active military "reserve" personnel in these figures too or regular U.S. Army troops and Air Force personnel? Along those lines, why have you omitted the naval presence of the U.S. military all across the globe?

In your Middle East inset (which needs a subhead) since it is the most important hotspot in the world for military matters, you definitely need to label them all of or at least the major countries besides the ones the U.S. has a presence in. Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia are very important in today's geopolitical realm. It is surprising to find out - based on this map - that the U.S. has 2,500 troops in Pakistan. I thought we are only flying drones. So, it begs the question - what kind of troops are you presenting data on? Advisors, special forces, paramilitary forces within the CIA, FBI, DEA? I cannot make a clear conclusion based on this map data.

I, like Nick, would like to see actual numbers with each country. The dots are nice but they need to be re-enforced with numbers. I also agree that the title of "troop deployment" is a little misleading too because in a lot of countries there are just U.S. air bases or advisors or administrative or logistical personnel as opposed to combat troops. When I read "troops" I think combat boots on the ground.

I hope this helps. I just think this map has the potential to be very, very intriguing and to really present a big picture, but it needs a purpose and needs lots of improvements.



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Esther Mandeno

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Hello blackpoll,

I think Michael covered just about everything there, didn't he? ;)

I agree that there is still a lot missing from this map to make it complete. With that said, I did like the red sized dots. Along with some tables and labels, I think they work because at a quick glance, you get a sense of the where and the magnitude very quickly.

Just my two cents worth. Keep adding stuff, would love to see the finished product. :)
Esther Mandeno
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Hello Blackpoll,

This map is a good start, but you do have some flaws. I love statistical maps and make them all the time. The only way to represent these data are in fact with graduated circles b/c at this scale you wouldn't be able to see a choroplethic range grade. However with all graduated circles you must label your symbology, all of them. You have plenty of space to do this.

As mentioned earlier, your title is lacking. For sure you need a date and what type of military.

Your legend is arbitrary, and that is the worst kind. You need a maximum number to cap the end. 140,000+? 5,000,000 is greater than 140,000 so is that how many troop we have in Iraq? Same could be said on the lower end, with your legend I could make the assumption that we only have 1 troop in each of those nations. For the best results, use an ideographic range grade.

Align your symbology in the legend, and keep your symbology the same. Don't make the line-weights greater on the bigger circles and smaller on the small circles. Keep them consistent.

In short I think this map could be very effective, i.e. read and comprehended in less then 5 seconds. That is always my goal with statistical mapping, making sure you can read the map faster then you could read a table of the same data.

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This thread is a bit old but it got by me, and I wanted to say something regarding the display of the map.
You mentioned Google Map API - I think this makes it far too busy - since we don't know the audience or intended use, this point may be debatable.
I think a static map would be fine, or simply Flash - which a map like this would be easy to make with a simple XML file for pop ups.

The point about total personnel and personnel stationed home and abroad (how much over-extended), reserves, etc., is really good. The map's concept, as it stands, is quite unfinished.

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