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ueuing for Clarion's UK show Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) you'd be forgiven for thinking you were taking part in a very civilised east London coup. Men in khaki pants and drab shirts shuffl e shoulder-to-shoulder with veterans proudly brandishing military colours, fl anked by fi nely-coiffed pinstriped procurement executives and secret service offi cials all eager to get into the giant edifi ce that is Excel in London's docklands.The biennial event is the pre-eminent international defence show. This year it united 29,112 visitors with 1,391 exhibitors of land, sea and air weapons and equipment from 46 countries. Exhibitors sell everything from military frigates to remote airborne observation drones, missile guidance systems and water bottles. There were 300 companies exhibiting equipment to deal with naturally occurring disasters this year - increasingly big business for the manufacturers of products such as early warning systems and debris clearance machinery.Unsurprisingly DSEi also appeals to placard wavers and ideologists. The event is seen as little more than an arms fair by protest groups with names such as Stop The Arms Fair and, more bluntly, Destroy DSEi. Nonetheless, the show's attendees see it as vital for international security. Poignantly, its Excel debut took place on September 11, 2001. Hit the ground runningA brief recce - that's the military term - of the show fl oor and it's already diffi cult to understand the practical application of most of the technology fi lling the stands. So I begin leaning in on conversations in the hope I can glean some understanding of what it is people have come to discuss. There's a lot of work being done at the stands and with 46 nationalities jostling for every lead - and a fair few foreign ministry offi cials - there's also a lot of national pride at stake. Innovation is celebrated with a theatrical element that really brings home the potential advantage these weapons offer their owners on the battlefi eld. The Robotics and Unmanned Systems Showcase is a twice-daily demonstration of the practical application of technology on the battlefi eld. It tells the story of a small Afghan village manned by actors dressed as Taliban fi ghters, discovered by a UK foot patrol assisted throughout their engagement by unmanned and semi-automated robots. With the audience of buyers in their seats, a wheeled lump is thrown towards a doorway, which crawls its way inside to reveal on screen the contents of the room - two insurgents, both focusing their attention on a remote controlled helicopter buzzing quietly outside their window. And with good reason, it soon slips away and forward comes the foot patrol, confi dent they know all there is to know about the hapless actors inside the building, who are subsequently neutralised with more weapons, some I recognise.DEFENCE SECRETARY ADDRESS AT DSEISpeaking at DSEi almost 10 years to the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, amid uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa, former UK defence secretary Liam Fox told media the need for DSEi has never been stronger."We are all reminded, in the long shadow of 9/11, that security does not exist unless it is created," said Fox. "The Arab Spring shows just how quickly things can change from one region to another."DSEi does much to assist the UK's waning manufacturing sector. The defence sector is responsible for 110,000 jobs and sales of £22bn (US$33.7m). The largest single customer for UK defence exports was the US (£2.3bn), with EU orders amounting to £2.7bn and the rest of the world £4.6bn."The UK's reputation in this industry is an exceptional success story," he said. Fox also drew attention to the interdependence of the global arms market, in contrast to the "global polarity" following the Second World War. This was key to achieving international security, he added.TO PROTECT AND SERVESECURITY EXHIBITION DSEI IS ONE OF THE UK'S FEW TRULY INTERNATIONAL SHOWS. IT'S ALSO ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS. ANTONY REEVE-CROOK REPORTSSHOW PROFILEIssue 8 | 2011 www.60exhibition-world.net

Poignantly, dsei's excel debut took Place on sePtember 11, 2001