U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Luis Lopez Sailor Volunteers to Help Afghan Police
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Valverde
USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs Office
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2006 - Petty Officer 2nd Class Luis Joseph Lopez, stationed aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, last year volunteered for orders to Kabul, Afghanistan, to help reform the Afghan National Police just months after returning from a six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.
Lopez is the plans operator at the Office of Security Cooperation, Afghanistan's Police Reform Directorate at Camp Eggers in Kabul. He is one of a few sailors deployed to the OSC to assist the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and its coalition partners in developing a self-sustaining national police force.
The 23-year-old native of Las Vegas agreed to take the orders after getting his mother's blessings.
"I had to talk to my mother," explained Lopez, "so I called her and she didn't like the fact (that I was deploying) but her comment was, €˜I'll support you in every decision you make.'"
In late October of 2005, Lopez reported to Fort Benning, Ga., where he received training to prepare him for life in Afghanistan.
"I received a weapon, uniforms and gear that I would need to make my mission successful," he said. "I went through obstacle courses, watched Power Point presentations of the heritage and living style of the Afghans and went through a safety survival course."
After three days of traveling by air and through convoys, Lopez arrived in Kabul.
Lopez said his job in Afghanistan differs from his job aboard the San Diego-based BHR. He still performs the duties of a Navy yeomen but works with servicemembers from every branch of the U.S. military.
"I have to consider the other branches of service polices and procedures," Lopez said.
There is also a greater element of danger while working in Afghanistan.
"You have to keep your guard up wherever you go. Even just taking the shuttle home," said Lopez. "I handle it like everyone else here €“ we live our lives to the fullest but always keep our guard up."
Lopez said it has been a memorable experience so far and he would volunteer to do it again.
"Everything from exploring Afghanistan's heritage and history to meeting the Afghan governors and generals from all the regions and viewing the police training and overall assisting in the creation of the Afghanistan National Police," Lopez said.