The UK’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014 was not just about fighting. From 2001, development work took place in an attempt to encourage a more stable future. UK government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities were active alongside the armed forces.

The political, economic and social development of Afghanistan was essential for the country to become secure and prosperous. Progress was made, with elections in 2014, investment in Afghan businesses, and improvements to infrastructure and key services. More schools and health clinics were built and improvements were made to the legal system.

But once a decision had been taken to withdraw international forces, British troops began the process of handing over security to Afghan forces. They formally ended their combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014. Britain and other coalition partners committed to continuing development work beyond the withdrawal, but the future of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remained precarious.

In spring 2014, IWM staff visited Afghanistan as part of IWM’s Contemporary Conflicts Programme. The individual accounts presented here are just some of the interviews that featured in our exhibition War Story: Afghanistan 2014.

Politics and Governance

Robert Chatterton Dickson, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Kabul, explains how 2014 is a key transitional phase in Afghanistan and how Britain and international partners are involved in this transition.

Role of NGOs

Helen Walton, Head of Socio-Economic Development for the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (HPRT), explains how NGOs work in Afghanistan and the sort of projects they deliver.

Law and Crime

Chloe Mackenzie, Rule of Law section based at the British Embassy in Kabul, describes how the Rule of Law section try to improve the legal system in Afghanistan by placing more emphasis on evidence-based prosecutions.


Alison Oswald, Project Manager for the Steps Towards Afghan Girls Educational Success (STAGES) Project for the Aga Khan Foundation, talks about some of the problems in improving education and how her project has tried to overcome them.

Improving Infrastructure and Key Services

Major Adam Jones, Chief of Staff of the Military Stabilisation Support Group, describes a construction project he was involved in and the role of the Military Stabilisation Support Group.

An Uncertain Future

Andy Corcoran, UK Head of Politics for the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (HPRT), highlights that there has been change in even the most problematic areas of Helmand but that the future of the situation is still unsettled.

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