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Photographer Documents British Troops’ Final Tour in Afghanistan

As an official British war artist, Robert Wilson was granted unprecedented access to the personnel and logistical operations surrounding the drawdown in Afghanistan, allowing a rare insight into the process of ending war.

The photo above shows the landscape around Camp Qargha, the home of the Afghan National Army (ANA) Officer Academy. ANA recruits are trained by British officers at the camp, dubbed "Sandhurst in the Sun" after the British military's officer training academy.

A mural on a wall at Camp Bastion, which was Britain's main military base in Afghanistan. Each unit decorated a section of the heavily fortified blast wall to commemorate their tour. The murals were due to be whitewashed before British troops left the base.

Robert Wilson

Portraits of British soldiers at Camp Bastion.

Armchairs at the flight line in Camp Bastion, nicknamed "Little Heathrow", where the engineers service Apache and Chinook helicopters.

Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson took this photo of the back section of a Tornado aircraft's jet engine at Kandahar Air Field. "What drew me to it was the almost natural organic nature of the pattern, its beauty, color and symmetry, all of which seemed to jar with its true purpose," he says.

Robert Wilson

Discarded T-Walls — steel–reinforced concrete walls used for blast protection — at Kandahar International Airport.

A container of spent shotgun cartridges and smoke canisters in an area of Camp Bastion known as "War Like Scrap". Anything that can’t be recycled or returned to the U.K. is broken down and destroyed so that it cannot be misappropriated.

Robert Wilson

A British Tornado pilot at Kandahar airfield.

The nose cone of a Boeing 747 at Camp Bastion is lifted to allow the plane to be loaded with equipment returning to the U.K.

Robert Wilson's photographs are being exhibited on advertising billboards across England and Scotland, including this bus stop in central London.

The photographer wants the troops' stories to resonate in the British communities most affected by the Afghan war, so some soldiers' portraits are being exhibited on the streets of their home towns.

British troops leaving Camp Bastion board a Royal Air Force A330 Voyager aircraft for the final journey home. The image is being displayed on a roadside in Camden, north London. The project's website explains why the exhibition has been taken outside the usual confines of a gallery:

"It is easy to think of wars as happening 'elsewhere' and to 'other people', but this project aims to highlight the toll that this war has taken in a relevant but unsentimental way, bringing the exhibition to the people, rather than the people to the exhibition."