Clearing out compounds and buildings that might potentially harbor insurgents is a hair-raising and sometimes deadly activity. It takes men of a certain quality to handle the unknown of what’s behind the closed doors and around shadowed corners.
Sergeant Michael G. Lyborg, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is a leader of such men.
Born in Sweden in the late 1970’s, Lyborg was raised in Gothenborg, Sweden by his American father and Swedish mother. When he reached adulthood, he entered the military; Sweden has mandatory service for all citizens.
“In ’97 and ’98 I joined the Swedish Army and was part of the Royal Swedish Arctic Infantry Air Defense,” said Lyborg.
Before joining, however, he was selected to become a squad leader after a battery of tests and various leadership courses.
According to Lyborg, instead of learning leadership while moving up through the ranks and through professional military education, in Sweden leaders are picked at entry-level through a series of tests and evaluations that analyze intelligence, mental capacity and physical ability. After the results of the tests were examined, he was offered several leadership options. Lyborg chose to be a squad leader.
After serving for a year as a squad leader in the Swedish Army, Lyborg moved to the United States, eventually residing in Fairhope, Ala. While in Alabama, he worked for a large computer company, making approximately $50,000 a year. Then the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 occurred.
“I was working as a system engineer at the time,” said Lyborg. “I missed military life and wanted to do something different. I went to talk to the Navy but they told me I couldn’t join. The Army didn’t really sound too attractive and the Air Force wanted to place me right back into what I was doing as a civilian, which was what I was trying to get away from.”
His only remaining option was the Marine Corps.
“The Marines seemed the most challenging,” said Lyborg. “A lot of Europeans deem the Marines as a highly professional fighting force.”
After enlisting in the Marine Corps as an infantryman and graduating recruit training and the school of infantry, Lyborg found himself with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines as a rifleman. While with Company I, Lyborg deployed to Afghanistan twice, once in defense of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and once with his entire battalion conducting offensive operations.
Almost eight years after leaving the Swedish Army, Lyborg now finds himself in command of a Marine rifle squad in Iraq.
“It comes down to leadership,” said Lyborg. “You have to know your stuff, be firm and be able to make decisions.”
According to Lyborg, a lot of what he was taught in the Swedish Army helped him in the Marine Corps.
“They taught us leadership and communication skills which have helped,” he said. “They also physically pushed us hard. We’d do 20-mile movements on skis in the mountains. After the first 10 you’d think you couldn’t go anymore, but you do. It taught me how to push myself.”
Currently, Lyborg plans to stay in the Marine Corps. After his return from Iraq in the spring, he is slated to go to the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s Foreign Military Training Unit to teach.
“I’m just going to take it four years at a time.”