Hoover Archives has received a collection of nearly five hundred photographs taken in Iraq during 2005–6 by Maciej Milczanowski, one of Hoover Library & Archives’ 2015 Silas Palmer Fellows. Professor Milczanowski, who now directs the International Security Department of the University of Information, Technology, and Management in Rzeszów, Poland, was a captain with the Polish contingent of the Multinational Force Iraq.
Polish forces were initially assigned to a broad swath of south-central Iraq south of Baghdad, from the borders of Iran all the way to those of Saudi Arabia. This area was known as the Multinational Division Central-South (MND-CS), or the Polish zone because it was formally under Polish command and Polish forces were the largest of the twenty-plus other national military contingents in the area. The Polish zone was headquartered in Camp Echo until October 2008 the time of the final withdrawal of the Polish forces. Because of the unwieldy command structure and the symbolic strength of most national units, the multinational division had relatively little fighting capability; its primary task was overseeing the transfer of the military and security matters in the area under its control to the provisional Iraqi authorities. Nevertheless, the Polish contingent suffered more than 150 casualties, with 22 soldiers killed.
The Milczanowski photos, divided into ten folders and captioned in English, show coalition forces’ patrols or convoys, bases, Iraqi archeological sites, and scenes from the daily life of officers and soldiers: work in the headquarters, training, recreation, and encounters with the Iraqi civilian population. One photo is of the Catholic military chapel, which had been dedicated to one of Christ’s apostles, St. Jude Thaddeus, the Saint of the Hopeless and the Despaired. Given the tragic history of Iraq, especially since the untimely withdrawal of US troops four years ago, its people need Saint Thaddeus’s intercession more than ever.