The Unseen Enemy; National Army Museum


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An exhibition has just opened at the NAM in Chelsea. Called 'The Unseen Enemy' the exhibition focuses on the work of IED operators, MERT staff and medical work and a little of rehab matters.

I attended the press preview on Thursday, and was blown away. Well, not quite, thanks to the skill and expertise of the REST staff.

The exhibition displays some common IEDs, some of the equipment used to detect and neutralise the threat and a potted history of the genre. On the day I attended there were teams from all units that are involved in countering the threat, and medical teams from the MERT staff to the theatre staff, and it was very instructive talking with them. For example, although I knew that R.A.F techs were involved, I had no idea that RN operators were active. I spoke to one of them, a diver, who was telling me of the contrast between clearance in Afghanistan and swimming under the hull of a submarine.

The exhibition features a variety of the hardware that is used to try to counter the threat as well as information about the devices themselves. Interestingly it also features what is believed to be the very first IED make it's appearance in the UK. Earlier than one might think.

The ECM teams get a strong mention too, without going into any great detail, and there are very impressive displays and equipment relating to MERT, Main Surgical hospital and the various rehab facilities. However, the display that attracted most interest and attention was a walk down a "typical Afghan village street" and a challenge to spot the threats. I managed a few, but the devices have changed an awful lot since my time in green. Still, I was quietly pleased to be able to demonstrate that I could still recognise threat warnings.

This is a terrific exhibition and one very much worth seeing. Admission is , I believe, free, and the museum staff are very helpful indeed. The area detailing the 'Road to Recovery' is worth seeing alone, and it affected a number of quite hardened journalists more than one might expect. There are some very human stories told in the exhibition, as well as some touching canine ones.

I really would like to stress that this exhibition was put together with care and attention, there has been a huge amount of help and input from the MoD and the army, and the work done by the museum staff is excellent.

My gratitude and huge amount of thanks go to my hosts on the day, Amy Cameron, the curator and Katy McMullen, the marketing and communication officer, and to Becca who was always there to help.

Do go and see this, if you have served in theatre then you will know some of it; if like myself you haven't, then it is an eye opener.

An excellent display at an excellent venue.

Edited to add that the exhibition runs from today 19th of July through until 31st March 2014.

Doh! don't know why I forgot to add that.
Thanks for the heads up.

Any idea how long this exhibit is up for?

Not been to the NAM in years, but do to work commitments I won't be able to get down till the Autumn.

Great day out followed by some scoff and a few beers down the Kings Rd.


Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Thanks for reminding me, I had forgotten to put the dates in.

From 19th July (now) until 31st March 2014.

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