Virginia National Guard trains to use new and upgraded weapons systems

13News Now Laura Geller was in Fort Pickett to witness the live-fire exercise.

The Virginia National Guard is now trained on new equipment that allows soldiers to better deploy in combat and serve the community here at home.

13News Now joined soldiers normally stationed in Hanover, Hampton and Norfolk for a live fire exercise at Fort Pickett. This equipment transformation will make these units faster and more powerful.

Just the mention of the National Guard's new howitzers makes Sgt. Joanne Sears grin.

“Let me tell you they're a lot of fun,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”

Why does she love it? Let's let her tell you.

“I love making things go boom, easiest way to put it ma'am,” Sears exclaimed. “You get that adrenaline rush. Myself, I'm an adrenaline junkie.”

But adrenaline rushes aren't the only benefit of the new artillery. The M119A and M777A2 give the battalion better capability to support infantry combat teams.

“To be able to be on the gun and work as a team and accomplish a mission and when the round hits the right place and the right time, it's awesome,” Sears described.

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jared Lake explained this process is automated to improve accuracy in real-world combat.
 
“They can come down at a trajectory that's pretty much straight down into a populated area to hit only the target they want,” Lake illustrated.
 

 
It's not just about fire power -- the larger, more elevated vehicles also help when the National Guard has to deploy in our communities.
 
“It's amazing because we're able to get into we weren't normally able to get into,” Sgt. Sears added. “If there's floods that we can fit more people into it. So we can have more people helping, boots on ground to pull people out of bad situations and to help our community.”
 
After Monday's exercise the soldiers will be officially certified ready to give support here at home and abroad.

PHOTOS: Virginia National Guard live fire exercise

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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