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ISAF Press Releases Complete Dataset Description

Dataset Summary

The ISAF Press Releases Complete dataset is an extension of the original ISAF Press Releases Dataset. It contains the raw HTML files of press releases issued by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, covering a broader period than the original dataset extending from 2009 until 2016. In addition to the HTML files, the dataset provides a Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet) that contains all the data parsed from the HTML files and API requests. This Parquet file serves as the primary resource for researchers and organizations interested in using the dataset.

The dataset offers a comprehensive collection of press releases, enabling researchers and organizations to analyze and process the data according to their specific requirements. The HTML files are organized by year and month for archival purposes, while the Parquet file provides a structured and easily accessible format for data analysis.

Supported Tasks and Leaderboards

  • document-retrieval: The dataset can be used for document retrieval tasks, where the goal is to find relevant press releases based on specific queries or criteria. Researchers can utilize the Parquet file to develop and evaluate retrieval algorithms.

  • text-generation: The press releases in the dataset can serve as a resource for text generation tasks, such as language modeling or summarization. The Parquet file provides a diverse collection of military-related text that can be used to train and test generative models.


The press releases in the dataset are entirely in English. They contain military jargon and Afghanistan-specific places and context, which are explained in the associated research paper.

Dataset Structure

Data Instances

The primary data resource in the dataset is the Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet), which contains all the data parsed from the HTML files and API requests. Each row in the Parquet file represents a single press release and includes relevant information extracted from the HTML files.

The dataset also includes the raw HTML files of ISAF press releases, organized by year and month in the data directory, for archival purposes.

Data Fields

The Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet) contains structured data with predefined fields extracted from the HTML files and API requests. Researchers and organizations can refer to the Parquet file schema to understand the available data fields and their types.

Data Splits

The dataset is not split into predefined subsets. The entire dataset is provided as a single Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet) for ease of use and analysis.

Dataset Creation

Curation Rationale

The ISAF Press Releases Complete dataset was created to provide researchers and organizations with access to a comprehensive collection of ISAF press releases in a structured and easily accessible format. The Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet) serves as the primary resource, containing all the data parsed from the HTML files and API requests. This format enables efficient querying, analysis, and processing of the press release data.

The raw HTML files are also included in the dataset for archival purposes and to allow researchers to refer to the original source material if needed.

Source Data

Initial Data Collection and Normalization

The HTML files were collected using the script provided in the scripts/ folder of the dataset repository. The script requires a DVIDS API key from to download the press releases. The downloaded HTML files were then organized by year and month in the data directory.

The data from the HTML files, along with additional information retrieved from API requests, was parsed and stored in the Parquet file (data/isafpressreleases-complete2024.parquet). This process normalized the data and provided a structured format for analysis and processing.

Who are the source language producers?

The press releases were written by the press office and media relations team of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and later NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) during the specified period. They were created by human writers as official communications from ISAF/NATO.


The dataset does not include any annotations or labeling. It consists of the raw HTML files and the parsed data in the Parquet file.

Personal and Sensitive Information

The dataset contains information mentioned in the original press releases, which were publicly issued by ISAF. However, as the dataset provides both the raw HTML files and the parsed data in the Parquet file, it is the responsibility of the researchers and organizations using the dataset to handle any personal or sensitive information appropriately and in compliance with relevant regulations and ethical guidelines.

Considerations for Using the Data

Social Impact of Dataset

The ISAF Press Releases Complete dataset provides an important historical record of ISAF's activities in Afghanistan during the specified period. It enables researchers, legal teams, and organizations to access and analyze the press release data, contributing to a better understanding of the events and their impact. The availability of this data is crucial for Afghan history and ensures that the information remains accessible for further research and analysis.

However, it is important to consider the potential biases and limitations of the dataset, as discussed in the following sections.

Discussion of Biases

The dataset reflects the inherent biases and limitations of ISAF's presence and understanding of Afghanistan. The press releases were created by ISAF/NATO and may not provide a complete or unbiased account of the events. It is important to recognize that the dataset represents the perspective and narrative of ISAF/NATO and may not necessarily reflect the experiences or viewpoints of other stakeholders, particularly the Afghan population.

Other Known Limitations

The dataset has several known limitations:

  • Incomplete coverage: While the dataset aims to provide a comprehensive collection of ISAF press releases, there may be gaps or missing information due to the availability and accessibility of the source data.
  • Potential inconsistencies: As the press releases were created by different individuals over an extended period, there may be inconsistencies in the style, format, or content of the data.

Users of the dataset should be aware of these limitations and consider them when working with the data.

Additional Information

Dataset Curators

The dataset was created by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn as an extension to their original ISAF Press Releases Dataset.

Licensing Information

This dataset is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. For more information, see Access to the dataset is restricted to legitimate researchers and organizations. For more information about accessing and using the dataset, please contact the dataset curators.

Citation Information

When using the ISAF Press Releases Complete dataset, please cite both the original dataset and the associated research paper:

author    = {Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn},
title     = {ISAF Press Releases Complete},
year      = {2023},
url       = {}

author    = {Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn},
title     = {A Knock on the Door: 22 Months of ISAF Press Releases},
journal   = {Afghanistan Analysts Network},
year      = {2011},
month     = {October},
day       = {12},
url       = {}


Many thanks to the Afghanistan Analysts Network for funding the research and supporting the creation of this dataset.

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