Soldiers train on new equipment

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Technology is helping the Mississippi Army National Guard more efficiently introduce soldiers to operating heavy construction equipment.

The Gulfport-based 890th Engineer Battalion is currently at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg for two weeks of annual training.

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Soldiers are using recently purchased simulators that mimic the experience of operating loaders, dozers, and graders. The machines grade how well the soldiers perform each task.

National Guard leaders say putting service members on simulators first reduces the likelihood of injuries and broken equipment once they go out into the field. Sgt. Brandon Thomas said, “It gives them a lot of familiarization so they get to spend as much time as they want here and just get really comfortable with all the controls and how the piece of equipment operates and moves. That way they get into the field, and they’re not scared or hesitant to hop on a piece of equipment and get to work.”

The 890th Engineer Battalion leaders say an advantage to the simulators is they can conduct heavy equipment training no matter the weather.