NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria - Mayors and other government officials near Novo Selo Training Area toured the temporary forward operating site here Jul. 30 with Joint Task Force-East leaders.

Both U.S. and Bulgarian Joint Task Force-East commanders, U.S. Army Col. Gary R. Russ and Bulgarian Col. Biser Kalinov, welcomed the officials and said the site visit was a great opportunity to further establish relationships with surrounding governments.

"It is a pleasure to host the mayors of the local area to this year's Joint Task Force-East training between the Bulgarian and U.S. armed forces," said Kalinov. "Today, we will show you the temporary forward operating station facilities and training sites."

Russ said he had three primary goals.

"The first is to introduce you to our joint team," he said." Also, introduce you to our training highlights and equipment and share with you how your government and your military are giving back to the small communities. I want to emphasize that this is Bulgarian and U.S. training."

Officials viewed various training facilities constructed by Bulgarian, U.S. and other foreign contractors. First, they went to the shooting range and were informed of the ongoing project for improvement. Then, they were taken to the airfield where they were explained the medical evacuation procedures to the nearest hospital using UH-60 Blackhawks.

Shortly after, the group went into the Novo Selo Aid Station where the liaison officer said the clinic will treat both U.S. and Bulgarian military personnel. At the logistics support area, officials were told of the various support cells including finance, public works and contracting that sustains the operations. Later, Soldiers demonstrated how to successfully exit an armored Humvee in the event of a rollover.

Participants said one of the most interesting parts was the weapons simulation trainer where they fired simulated rounds onto a large projected screen experiencing some of the various technologies used by the U.S. Army.

What lies ahead is a new forward operating site at Novo Selo that includes barracks with a capacity of about 2,500 soldiers and support facilities. It is estimated to be ready for rotational units by 2012.

Joint Task Force-East is part of U.S. European Command's Theater Security Cooperation Program that offers participating headquarters staff and units significant training opportunities for possible future operations between U.S. forces and partner nations.

These training activities are being conducted simultaneously in Bulgarian and Romanian training areas between August and October 2009. Host nation installations in Bulgaria and Romania are used to support and facilitate rotational training activities.