Latest in Defence: National Army Museum's Unseen Enemy exhibition

This edition of Latest in Defence reports from the National Army Museum's Unseen Enemy Exhibition, which explores the history and use of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED).


In part one, we explore the "IED corridor", which invites visitors to look for evidence of bomb-making in a typical Afghan street, and curator Jo Sohn-Rethel talks about how British forces have responded to this new type of insurgent warfare.

But the IED isn't a new concept; the exhibition's history section has a clockwork device planted in Victoria station in London by the Fenians in the 1880s, a campaign which inspired bomb disposal pioneer Col. Sir Vivian Dering Majendie.

Bringing the exhibition up to date, the modern conflicts display includes remotely operated bomb disposal vehicles that have been used in Afghanistan. These include a Wheelbarrow robot, fitted with a new Quarrel system, which uses a blast of air to uncover IEDs for the bomb disposal team to work on. In addition there is the Dragon Runner system, fitted with a disruptor which fires a high-pressure water jet to break the explosive circuit.

Watch part one

Part two looks at the real - and often devastating - consequences of IED warfare, and tells the story of Captain David Henson, a soldier who lost both legs while on patrol in Afghanistan. There have been 30,000 casualties caused by IEDs between 2006 and March 2013, and while devastating to the wounded soldier, has inspired some amazing innovations in the medical profession. Thanks to the skills of medical personnel, casualties are now surviving with increasingly severe injuries.

Watch part two

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