Free public data on security and defence forces

WhoWasInCommand is our free to use, public database of security force units and organizational structure, command personnel and areas of operation.



WhoWasInCommand is our free to use, public database of military, police and other security and defence force units. It contains data on their organizational structure, command personnel, geographical footprint (such as bases and areas of operation), and their connections to allegations of human rights violations as documented and published by human rights organizations.

By using it, you can answer key questions about the structure, behaviour and people in charge of security and defence forces:

  • Who is in charge of the specialized anti-riot police unit?
  • What army unit has jurisdiction over what areas and for how long?
  • Where did this commander previously serve, and where did they go next?
  • When was a particular police unit based in a specific city?
  • What allegations have civil society groups made against a unit or commander?

Go to

Key Features of

Organizational structures

Unit dossiers include data on unit names and aliases, command personnel, superior and subordinate units, areas of operation, and physical infrastructure like bases and camps. They also cover membership in national and international joint operations, and international peacekeeping missions.

Chains of command

Linking data on commander personnel and organizational structure, WhoWasInCommand creates organigrams that shed light on possible chains of command. This helps research command responsibility in various contexts, including the investigation of violations of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.

Commander career histories

WhoWasInCommand shows all publicly known postings for command personnel, including their duration, and the ranks, roles and official title they have held.

Wide country coverage

WhoWasInCommand currently includes data on the following countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

These data are updated and new countries added on a rolling basis. We announce data updates on our blog.

Integrates human rights reporting

Where available, we have included direct allegations of human rights violations made against persons and units by human rights organizations. Visit the Incidents tab on WhoWasInCommand to view this material.

Completely transparent sourcing

You can check our work. Every datapoint on WhoWasInCommand is supported by one more online sources, all of which are archived and accessible to users. Visit our Research Handbook to learn more about the sourcing and data integrity measures we use.

Fast, powerful search

WhoWasInCommand is built around powerful and familiar search, filter and sorting features. Filter your search results for time, place, branch of security forces and many other details.

Take our data home

Need to use our data in your work? Full datasets for each country on WhoWasInCommand can be downloaded in spreadsheet form.

Use it in your language

WhoWasInCommand currently works in English, French and Spanish. You can switch between these languages dynamically. The platform can be translated to work in any language. If you would like to see WhoWasInCommand in your language, please get in touch.

Fully documented research method and data model

Our comprehensive Research Handbook provides guidance on the meaning of each field, our data model, how we conduct our research, and how we create data. Relevant guidance from the Research Handbook is also woven into WhoWasInCommand (everywhere there is a “?” sign), giving visitors assistance about the meaning of particular fields and blocks of content.

Free and Open Source Software

The software that powers WhoWasInCommand is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), built publicly. You are free to download and use the software, set up your own instances of WhoWasInCommand, and engage directly with the engineering process.

Go to