After two years of leading the enlisted men and women of U.S. Africa Command, the command’s senior enlisted leader is preparing to depart for his next assignment, but he is leaving behind a legacy in building relationships on the African continent.
“It is my hope that America embraces Africa,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson Jr., about the many things he’s learned during his time as AFRICOM’s command senior enlisted leader (CSEL). “Just look at Africa. The history of Africa is phenomenal. You can look back centuries and centuries. The Africans live it every day. They are wonderful people.”
Johnson will be succeeded by U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Darrin J. Bohn in a change of responsibility ceremony here July 12. Bohn, a native of Saginaw, Michigan, enlisted in the U.S. Army 1982 as an Infantryman. Prior to his arrival at AFRICOM, he was the Command Sergeant Major for U.S. Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Johnson hopes the hard work and determination he has put toward building a bond with his fellow African non-commissioned officers will benefit all those who follow in his footsteps in the CSEL position.
“There’s something to be said about building relationships, not a personal relationship but an institutional relationship,” Johnson said. “And that relationship is so that when I leave and the next person comes in, the relationship is still there.”
Through Johnson’s partnership engagements with African militaries, AFRICOM has helped facilitate numerous professional development opportunities for the enlisted corps such as the annual Joint Warrant Officer and Senior NCO Symposium (JWOS).
“African partners have the motivation; they just don’t have the ways and the means,” Johnson said. “So one of our primary focuses that I am very proud of is helping out partners on the ways and the means to find African solutions and build their capacity.”
Since his arrival at AFRICOM, Johnson has visited more than 40 African partner nations. Africa has become his passion and no matter where his future leads, he said he will always carry a piece of it in his heart.
“There is so much I have learned from our African partners,” Johnson said. “I ask people to not overlook the beauty of the continent, the beauty of the people and the beauty of their militaries. It is going to grow even stronger as we go along.”
After more than 30 years of service, AFRICOM tops Johnson’s list of assignments. And while each position you hold over the course of a career teaches you lessons, none is more powerful than the lesson he learned from an African proverb told to him during one of his many trips to the continent.
“If I’m walking on a bridge and the wind blows me over, take a bath - in other words, make the best out of every situation, and that’s been my favorite African proverb to live by.”
Johnson’s next assignment will take him to the Pentagon where he will work for the Air Force Under-Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, which, said Johnson, “suits me well because I can continue caring for people in that role.”