GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - African leaders, senior enlisted advisers and warrant officers of 24 nations, discussed ways to increase the roles of women in the military, noncommissioned officers, and their expanding individual and collective defense capabilities through cooperation, during the U.S. Africa Command's, also known as AFRICOM, Joint Warrant Officer and Senior Noncommissioned Officer Symposium, or JWOS, a week-long symposium that encourages cooperation, understanding and reveals common interest among African partners.

"When they came they were storming, forming, norming and performing. There are individuals here today that don't normally talk to their neighbors next door. Now they are laughing, joking, praying and eating together," said Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson, Jr., AFRICOM's command senior enlisted leader.
"In our mission it's about America, Americans and American interest." Johnson said by helping and supporting Africa as it builds its defense capabilities, it actually helps America.

"The strength of our Corps [NCO], the strength of our military and of their military is the Noncommissioned Officer and the petty officers," Johnson said. "This great institution at Grafenwoehr, the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, proves it."

The 33 leaders from various countries from all over Africa toured the 7th U.S. Army's Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Grafenwoehr, May 24. It was the final event of a week-long symposium.

JWOS is in its fourth year, and participation has more than doubled since its inception in 2009.

"As they build their militaries we want them to mold after excellence. The Noncommissioned Officer Academy, at JMTC [Joint Multinational Training Command], exemplifies just that -excellence," said Johnson. "We must have interoperability to fight together and to lead together. That's one of the things they've learned."

He said the leaders are taking lessons home with them. The lessons of other partnered nations, and making friends along the way.

"This is a way of imparting some knowledge to us so we can lead our subordinates the right way, said Major Sergeant Major Gift Mbatisi, of the Botswana Defense Force. "You can't do it alone."

Adjutant Martine Maiching from Cameroon said female soldiers can benefit from this training.

"I think if they came here they would be able to achieve skills in leadership," Maiching said.

In closing remarks during the recognition ceremony, Johnson reminded the leaders of an African proverb, which says, "if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far go together; Thirty-three African senior enlisted advisers and warrant officers of 24 nations met at Grafenwoehr's Noncommissioned Officer Academy, taking the first step toward the commitment to go far, creating a more unified Africa.