(FORT GORDON, Ga.) - Third Army/U.S. Army Central hosted a delegation of soldiers from the Turkmenistan National Army for an information exchange here June 15-18. The exchange between the two armies is part of a week-long trip where Turkmenistan medical soldiers received an inside look at the U.S. military's largest peacetime medical exercise "Golden Medic."

"Golden Medic" is a week-long joint exercise that runs Army and Air Force medical professionals through medical scenarios which they may face in a combat environment. Their medical training is in areas that include casualty movement, C-17 and helicopter airframes, medical equipment training and mortuary affairs.

During this exercise, the Turkmenistan soldiers received an up-close look at how the U.S. Army conducts health care in a real-world environment by observing these realistic drills. The exercise involved more than 3,500 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel and is conducted every year at Fort Gordon, Ga.

While Turkmenistan's military medical program and procedures are similar to the U.S., its current capability allows it to treat military first while only treating local civilians in times of extreme crisis or national disaster.

For one officer, the exchange between the two nations was very interesting, both as a medical professional and as a soldier.

"It is interesting to get to know each other and build this relationship," said Turkmen Col. Allaberdi Jumayev, the chief of medical directorate. "I saw a lot of new equipment and medical kits that we [in Turkmenistan] have a lot of interest in."

The six visiting soldiers included senior Turkmenistan medical officials from both its Ministry of Defense and State Border Service.

The visit is part of the continued effort led by Third Army/USARCENT's civil-military affairs Theater Security Cooperation program that hosts foreign soldiers and sends U.S. Soldiers to participating countries in the area of responsibility to interface and exchange ideas with their counterparts.

"The Theater Security Cooperation program allows USARCENT to coordinate military to military exchanges with our partner countries," said 1st Lt. Erin Pendleton, the Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan country desk officer assigned to the USARCENT CIMA section. "This exchange is a great way to build a relationship with nations such as Turkmenistan."

Third Army/USARCENT, based in Atlanta, conducts over a hundred of Theater Security Cooperation activities throughout 24 countries on a yearly basis in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, which spans the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia every year. The program's base is to enhance or establish relationships with regional national militaries, and promotes bilateral and multilateral interoperability, strategic access and operational basing.

With these programs, Third Army and its partner nations strengthen their defense relationships and improve their ability to effectively participate in coalition operations.

Maj. John White, Third Army/USARCENT medical plans officer, said for young democratic nations such as Turkmenistan, these type of events build lasting relationships between the two growing allies.

"Our program is to discuss and interact with each other," said White. "We talk to each other about things that will impact the future of both combat and regular care. This is important because we are still trying to learn from each other."

Turkmenistan seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. It borders Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the southwest, Uzbekistan to the northeast and Kazakhstan to the northwest. It is also east of the Caspian Sea.

The exchange will continue until June 20 with the delegation visiting key medical facilities and the Office of the Surgeon General in Washington, D.C.