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Panel 5


This panel will be led by TRADOC (NZ) which is the organisation that provides formal individual training for the NZ Army.  The rapid implementation and subsequent move from AL 2 to AL4 caught a number of organisations unprepared.  This panel will highlight issues experienced by TRADOC units with the rapid transition to lockdown, the unique solutions that were adopted to conduct ab-initio and Pre deployment training to ensure alignment with GONZ / NZDF direction and the subsequent development and adoption of a training reset for the NZ Army.

Early on it was identified that a complete lockdown of the Army training system would have wide ranging and long term negative effects on our People and Army’s ability to maintain its trained state.  Prompt analysis identified that a cessation of recruit and officer cadet training would have significant long term effects and the release of 280 personnel back into the wider community would put more strain on national and regional medical assets.  Having managed an influenza outbreak at the recruit training centre in 2019 it was decided that these same safety protocols would be enacted as a baseline against COVID and until such time as more detailed direction was provided from HQNZDF.   The reduction in support from external agencies, instructors that needed to prepare their families for lockdown, concerned family members of the recruits / officer cadets and physical distancing created a number of simultaneous wicked problems.  Concepts such as  ‘bubbles within bubbles within bubbles’ became a catch cry and using a Mission Command mindset our leaders stepped up to the mark – ensuring the safety of their soldiers, their workmates, their families and their communities, all whilst continuing to deliver designated essential training.

Conversely the swift cancellation of courses and the need to return students to various parts of NZ created a number of short and longer term problems. While a lot of the NZDF was focused on preparing for mass COVID infection and subsequent issues, TRADOC was able to take a longer term view and develop a ‘COVID exit strategy’.  This strategy sought to look for opportunities in the chaos and align work that had already began as part of Army25. Subsequently the Army Individual Training Evolution programme has been advanced, courses for the next six months have been prioritised and resourced, and training alignment between Army’s formations, units and corps created.


Lt Col Dean Gerling – Commanding Officer, The Army Depot

LTCOL Dean Gerling has served as an officer in the RNZA since Dec 97, and has fulfilled a number of Corps roles at 16 Fd Regt and the School of Artillery including Command Post Officer, Gun Position Officer, Battery Captain, Forward Observer, Adjutant, Instructor Gunnery, Executive Officer, and Chief Instructor. Outside of RNZA postings, LTCOL Gerling has held staff and training appointments at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, Headquarters 2nd Land Force Group, Strategic Commitments and Engagement Branch, and New Zealand Defence Intelligence. LTCOL Gerling has served on operational missions in East Timor, Afghanistan, and Bosnia-Herzegovina

LTCOL Gerling commenced his current appointment in Nov 18. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TAD continued running Recruit Regular Force courses 396 and 397. The measures put in place by TAD, and other Defence Force ab-initio units ensured the safety of trainees and instructors, whilst ensuring the training still met the syllabus.

Capt Dougald Munro – Senior Instructor (Field), Officer Cadet School.

Capt Dougald Munro enlisted in the New Zealand Army in January 2011 and was posted to Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles in 2012 to 2013 as Troop Leader. He later Corps changed and posted to 2/1 Battalion in 2013. In 2014 he was posted to Depot Company as a Platoon Commander on Combat Corps Training followed by platoon Command at Delta Company. In 2016 he deployed on operations as a Training Team Leader before returning as Alpha Company 2IC.

Capt Munro was posted to Army Command School at the end of 2018 as Assistant Senior Instructor Field, Officer Cadet School of New Zealand. In 2020 he was posted in as Senior Instructor where he will remain until being posted back to 2/1 Battalion. Captain Munro enjoys playing rugby, cricket, golf, tennis and multi-sport. Capt Munro lives with his fiancé Emma, who is a teacher at Taihape Area School, in the Waiouru housing area.

During COVID 19 AL 3-4, Capt Munro planned and executed a two week period of training and Exercise LA BASSE VILLE.

Maj Joe Totoro – Officer Commanding, Force Preparation Wing.

Time in service:  20 years.  Three years enlisted.  One year Cadet.  16 years Officer RNZE

Operational service: UNMISET (2002) – Platoon Medic, UNTSO (2009) – UNMO & Trg Offr, Op CRIB21 (2013) – S5, Op MANAWA6 (2018) – S75

Key postings: Specialist Search Team Comd, 1NZSAS Gp (2007 – 2009), Adjutant / S3, 2 Engr Regt (2011 – 2013), Project Officer, DE&I (2014 – 2016), Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College (2016), XO, 2 Engr Regt (2017), OC 25ESS, 2 Engr Regt (2018 – 2020)

Interests: Botany, 17th Century architecture, and extended, unpredictable walks through varying vegetation (golf).

Lt Col Mark Taylor – Chief of Staff, TRADOC (NZ).

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Taylor was educated at Pleasant Point High School and joined the New Zealand Army in May 1986 as a Sapper. Lieutenant Colonel Taylor graduated from the Officer Cadet School New Zealand in Jun 1988 as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal New Zealand Signals Corps.

From July 1988 to December 1991 Lieutenant Colonel Taylor served with Force Signals Squadron as Radio Relay and then Electronic Warfare Troop Commander before being posted as Assistant Support to Military Operations in Wellington from December 1991 to December 1993. Lieutenant Colonel Taylor was then posted to 2/1 RNZIR as Regimental Signals Officer and while serving with 2/1 RNZIR deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 as Liaison Officer for Kiwi Company 2.

From December 1995 to March 2001 Lieutenant Colonel Taylor returned to the Corps of Signals and held the appointments of Operations Officer and Officer Commanding 3 Sig Sqn then Officer Commanding 2 Sig Sqn before deploying to East Timor in 2001. On return to New Zealand Lieutenant Colonel Taylor took up the post of Chief Instructor School of Signals until April 2003 when he posted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters (UK) for 9 months as the NZ Liaison Officer. Lieutenant Colonel Taylor again held the post of Chief Instructor School of Signals in 2009.

Lieutenant Colonel Taylor has deployed operationally on six occasions. In 1995 he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as the Liaison Officer for Kiwi Company 2 and in 1998 deployed as part of the Peace Monitoring Group to Bougainville. In 2001 deployed to East Timor as S1/4 Headquarters Sector West and received a Commander Sector West Commendation for his service. In 2004 deployed to Afghanistan as Patrol Commander with CRIB 4 and was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and Bronze Star for his deployment in Afghanistan. In 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan as OIC LEWT with CRIB 16 and then in 2013 served in HQ ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Taylor has also held a variety of staff and extra-regimental appointments. In 2004-05 he was Chief of Staff/Brigade Major at Headquarters 3rd Land Force Group. In 2006 was a Desk Officer in J3 Branch, Headquarters Joint Force New Zealand. In 2007-08 and again in 2011-12 was the G7 Director of Training, Headquarters Land Training and Doctrine Group. In 2013 was SO2 Cyber, Strategic Commitments and Intelligence Branch, Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force. In 2014-2016 held the position of Commanding Officer, Defence Training Institute New Zealand Defence College. He then returned to TRADOC (NZ) doing a brief stint as Chief Instructor Officer Cadet School, Army Command School before holding his current position as Chief of Staff HQ TRADOC (NZ).

Lieutenant Colonel Taylor graduated US Marine Corps Command and Staff College in 2012 with a distinction.

Lieutenant Colonel Taylor enjoys playing sport and has played NZ Army and NZDF level football. He is an avid DIYer and enjoys woodworking. He and his wife, Del, live in the Raetihi and have four grown up children and three grandchildren.

Maj Nick Ang – Executive Officer Land Operations Training Centre.

Maj Nick Ang, RNZIR is an advocate of lifelong learning with a passion for the importance of individual training within the Army’s schools in order to better prepare soldiers for the Profession of Arms. Nick is a NZ certified primary school teacher (1981) under the NZ Education Board’s “Tomorrow’s Schools” curriculum.

In 1985, as a consequence of qualifying as a Training and Development Officer (TDO) at the pilot TDO course at the Australian School of Instructional Techniques, Nick became instrumental in the introduction of a formal teaching/instructional system for NZ Army, aka the Army Training System (Individual), a system morphed within the current civilian training institutions as the ADDIE training model.

MajAng became the first graduate of the Army’s Master’s Programme (1997) and conferred with a Master of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies. In 1998, he was conferred with a Post Graduate Diploma of Business and Administration in Disputes Resolution (Mediation). He has lectured in both disciplines as a Massey University lecturer.

Nick has extensive experiences helping with indigenous training and, has led numerous Mutual Assistance Training Teams (MATT) over the past 30 years especially in Fiji and PNG. He has deployed on five operational missions with three missions in a TDO/Training role including in 1987 the TDO of both Fiji Battalions at MFO (Sinai), and UNIFIL (Lebanon) and, most recently as the Armistice Education Officer for UNMAC (South Korea).

He has been XO of LOTC for five years, championing Blended Learning (BL), including presenting with Maj Shaun O’Connor (Retd) at the 2017 NZ BL annual conference. Over the past 2 years Nick has championed AITE and how Flipped Learning (FL) principles can enhance successful student learning, how LOTC develops its instructional base knowledge and finally, how LOTC develops its modern learning environment within tight fiscal constraints.

WO1 Mario Ropitini – Regimental Sergeant Major, Mission Command Training Centre.

WO1 Ropitini enlisted into the NZ Army in 1986 as a crewman, Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps. He spent his formative years fulfilling normal crewman posts including driver, gunner and AFV commander.

With the introduction of LAV, WO1 Ropitini was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal NZ Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR) in Dec 2003, and fulfilled a number appointments including Troop Sergeant LAV Company, Technical WO, and Company Sergeant Major, Whiskey Company. In Dec 2007 WO1 Ropitini was posted to the Combat School as Wing Sergeant Major (WSM), Mounted Operations Wing. Then in Dec 2009, was promoted to WO1 and returned to 1 RNZIR as the Senior Weapons Instructor (Armoured).

WO1 Ropitini’s non-regimental appointments include Instructor OCS (NZ), Career Manager Army General Staff, and AS5 WO HQ 1 (NZ) Bde.

WO1 Ropitini deployed on operations to Bosnia in Sep 1994; East Timor in Sep 1999; Sinai in Oct 2001; and Afghanistan in Sep 2011.

WO1 Ropitini’s most recent appointments include Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, and RSM Mission Command Training Centre – his current post.

WO1 Ropitini is married to Vanessa and they have four children. He supports the sporting interests of his tamariki, and is part of the wider Manawatū sporting community through coaching and refereeing rugby and touch.