FORT HOOD, Texas -- As new equipment filters into the Army, units must ensure they have proper training on them to achieve success when using them at the range or in conflict.

Approximately 14 engineer team leaders with C Company, 2nd "Spartans" Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted an Operator's New Equipment Training class here, Oct. 2, to familiarize themselves with a new weapons system they received this year.

The M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System is a 12-gauge shotgun with ambidextrous firing capabilities, either mounted to an M4 carbine or used as a stand-alone device capable of lethal and nonlethal use, said Joseph Foti, a training specialist with the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armament Command.

While any Soldier may utilize the M26, the specific design fits into Army engineers and military police functionalities, he said.

"Right now engineers and military police are receiving them as the M26 fits into their specific duties and operations such as breaching and riot control," Foti added.

Spartan team leaders spent multiple hours of classroom time to familiarize themselves on the basics of the weapon, how to assemble and disassemble it, clean it, clearing procedures and practical exercises on its uses.

"It is more versatile than the former Mossberg 500 shotgun," Foti explained. "It can be mounted onto an assault rifle. A Soldier can use it for protection and breaching, then switch to riot control with bean bags, all with a simple magazine exchange."

A key to an engineer's success is flexibility and adaptability, said Capt. Louis-Philippe Hammond, C Co. commander. "This weapon provides both for those who utilize it."

"(M26) has a modular design that makes sense," Hammond added. "Instead of carrying multiple individual platforms such as an assault rifle, shotgun and grenade launcher, my Soldiers will now have the use of one combined weapon."

Additionally, the M26 helps decrease a Soldier's reaction time and increases their safety.

"Whether it's a stand-alone unit or mounted, it will save time on reloading and switching weapons," said Sgt. Efrain Gutierrez, a team leader with C Co. "It is safer to use because of the stand off device, which allows (Soldiers) to breach a door without having to guess the proper distance, ensuring we are safe from shrapnel and fragments."

Gutierrez stated the class was just as beneficial as the weapon itself. "I learned a lot. I feel very prepared to instruct my Soldiers on the weapon so they are prepared for gunnery and the shotgun range."

Hammond agreed by saying "I have extreme confidence in the team leaders. They have the experience, willingness to lead, and a desire to take what they have learned and properly introduce the M26 to their soldiers."

A great concept, C Co. engineers are pleased and excited for the shotgun range scheduled after gunnery, he said.