| Feb 15, 2007


Feature Article - February 15, 2007

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Feature Article - February 15, 2007

Arghanistan provincial reconstruction planby Don Antoine

As a member of the 48th Highlanders Old Comrade Association, we received the following communiqufrom Afghanistan : Stg. Ronaldson is a 48th Reservist who volunteered for active service. Another 48th Reservist, Corp. Dyer, also volunteered, and was one of the four soldiers killed by American aircraft friendly fire. Along with many WWII Veterans, I attended his graveside memorial service in Toronto .

In the middle of Ma’sum Ghar, the heartland of Taliban country progress: Just outside the Canadians’ forward operating base, under the watchful eyes of Canadian observation posts and the cannons of Leopard tanks, a 48th Highlander reservist, Sgt. Nathan Ronaldson runs his “storefront” operation for the coalition’s Provincial Reconstruction Team.

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He’s responsible for the dusty village of Bazaar-e-Panjway . His office is the former home of a local grandee sympathetic to the Taliban. He’s guarded by mud walls, razor wire and a unit of soldiers out of Valcartier, Que. His job: fix the damage done to the town by Operation Medusa, by the Taliban and by decades of poverty and neglect.

“When we set up here at the end of Medusa (in September), we met with the district representative and the local police chief. The first thing they asked for was for us to give them their school back,” said Sgt. Ronaldson, a former emergency room nurse at Scarborough General, serving with the 48 Highlanders.

SCHOOL UPGRADE: So he approved funding, got a local contractor to work for cost and got to work. They replaced doors and windows, added new latrines, a generator, an electric water pump and a row of taps along one side of the school, so the children could wash. The PRT donated a computer and stationery. The school has 1,200 students now, attending classes in shifts. “This is important work and I really enjoy it; we are part of the neighbourhood now.

In another corner, just one small hill and less than a dusty kilometre away, the soldiers of 1st Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, were “getting ready to launch back on operations and back to do the business,” as Lieutenant-Colonel Omer Lavoie put it at a promotion ceremony, and join other NATO forces in Operation Baaz Tsuka in English, Falcon’s Summit.

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