The British military’s 13 years in Afghanistan is recounted in a new exhibition opening in London on Thursday, weeks before its combat forces pull out with the country facing an uncertain future.
Visitors to “War Story: Afghanistan 2014” at the Imperial War Museum can see a suicide bomber’s vest stuffed with ball-bearings, a Taliban motorcycle and a surveillance drone as well as hear British and Afghan forces talk about their experiences.
The exhibition comes as Britain reflects on its role in the war in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission in which 453 British personnel have died since 2001.
The deaths mostly occurred in the restive southern province of Helmand, where Britain is currently winding down its main base, Camp Bastion.
The display, which runs to September next year, centres on film and video interviews with British troops and Afghan forces in which they speak of their time in the country and their hopes for the future.
It also features objects collected by the team working on the “War Story” project on several trips to Afghanistan, the first time since World War I that the museum had sent a team into a theatre of war.
More than 1,800 soldiers and their families have registered to share their stories.
– ‘Conclusion still unknown’ –
Curator Matthew Brosnan said that creating an exhibition about an ongoing war presented challenges.
British combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year though some personnel will stay on to help train Afghan forces.
Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s new president, was sworn in last month with the country still battling corruption, insecurity and increasing opium cultivation.
In a BBC documentary to be screened later this month, senior British military officers admitted strategic errors in Afghanistan but defended the overall impact of military intervention.