Afghanistan: Reflections on Helmand
This exhibition examines the British arrival in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2006 and the decisions that shaped the way the conflict escalated, exploring the impact this period had on those who were there and the lessons learnt from this deployment. On display are newly acquired objects, photography and video and audio interviews, most of which have never been displayed before.
Arrival in Helmand
British forces were sent to Afghanistan in October 2001, and remained in the country as part of an international force tasked with helping the new government to maintain security. But in summer 2006 British troops were deployed to Helmand province. An initial plan aimed to create a secure environment in the centre of the province for development projects to take place. However, soon after their arrival, British troops became involved in fighting with the resurgent Taliban in the north of Helmand, making attempts to carry out development work difficult and dangerous.
I suspect the overwhelming lesson learnt is never again - Mark Etherington, Head of the Joint Planning Team for Helmand in 2005
Today, many of the places in Helmand where British forces fought and died are still gripped by violence. The original decision to deploy to Helmand and the strategy that followed are now under scrutiny. The men and women who served in Helmand have been deeply affected by their experiences there. The military commitment to Afghanistan came at enormous human and financial cost. It transformed Britain’s armed forces, though some argue that it left them too focussed on one particular war.
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