Soldiers in the Missouri Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program used paintball guns to add realism to their monthly drill on Saturday.

Soldiers in the Missouri Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program used paintball guns to add realism to their monthly drill on Saturday.

“The soldiers aren’t just walking through the motions, they are actually shooting,” said the program’s area coordinator Staff Sgt. Dwayne Washington, of Liberty. “When they get shot, it’s an instant lesson learned.”

The recruits were given a mission to secure and hold a mock village with minimal causalities. During the exercise, their instructors acted as enemy forces to prevent the recruits from completing their mission.

Two platoons, each made up of four seven-Soldier squads, took turns conducting the exercise. While two squads laid down covering fire, the other squads moved into an attack position. Once the first two squads had the enemy distracted, the second two squads launched an attack to secure the village.

 “I wanted to give the soldiers a working knowledge of a real world mission,” Washington said. Washington explained during the exercise, soldiers had to learn to move and communicate as one.

“Our team really worked together,” said Pfc. Gerrold Pitts, of Lenexa. “It took cooperation and compatibility, and I thought we did really well.”

Soldiers not only learned maneuver tactics, they also learned basic weapons handling skills. Pitts said that the paintball exercise taught them respect for weapons and the importance of maintenance checks.

“I knew I didn’t want to get shot,” Pitts said. “So I made sure my weapon was ready to fire.”

Washington said that for many of these soldiers, drill is the first time they’ve been exposed to weapons. He said that the soldiers have to learn responsibility and respect for weapons in the training environment before using them in the real world.

“The goal in RSP is to give new soldiers the base knowledge they need to be successful at training,” Washington said. “They know where they struggle and can work to fix those areas. Training like paintball teaches fundamentals skills for the soldiers to build on.”

For more information about the Missouri National Guard  call 1-800-GoGuard.