WASHINGTON (AP) _ In hopes of ``learning each other's techniques'' and ``making friends,'' 500 U.S. paratroopers will fly to Kazakhstan next month for a joint-military exercise with Central Asian nations.

Members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division will fly nonstop from North Carolina to Kazakhstan for the six-nation exercise, the Pentagon said Thursday.

``This is a first. This is a strategic airlift of airborne troops that has not been seen before,'' said Brig. Gen. Martin Berndt.

The U.S. forces will travel almost 8,000 miles before parachuting into their destination point. The weeklong exercise in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan begins Sept. 14 and will focus on humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations.

A total of 1,400 troops from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Turkey, the United States, Russia and Georgia are involved, said Berndt.

Troops will be ``sharing their experiences, learning each other's techniques, tactics and procedures, and in many cases, making friends, so that when they do come together for real, perhaps they're better prepared for that mission,'' he said.

Marine Corps Gen. John J. Sheehan, who heads the Atlantic Command, is expected to participate in the parachute drop along with the troops, Berndt said.