The Strategic Corporal at Firdos Square

If Leon Lambert, a 35-year old gunnery sergeant, hadn’t been at Firdos Square, the statue of Saddam Hussein probably wouldn’t have been toppled on April 9. It was Lambert who gave a sledgehammer and rope to a handful of Iraqis at the square, thereby triggering the process that led to the statue’s downfall. Lambert’s role was a manifestation of the “strategic corporal” theory that Marine General Charles Krulak described in an influential 1999 article. Krulak argued that, in an interconnected world, the actions of even a lowly corporal can have global consequences. “All future conflicts will be acted out before an international audience,” Krulak wrote. “In many cases, the individual Marine will be the most conspicuous symbol of American foreign policy and will potentially influence not only the immediate tactical situation, but the operational and strategic levels as well.” Click here for the article.

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.