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“Arguably, the most important military component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries.”[1]

New Zealand (NZ) has a long and admirable history of contributing to international efforts to resolve conflict. Throughout numerous operations over many years, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has proven itself to be a valued coalition partner committed to peace and security. In recent years, one of NZ’s leading operational focuses has been fighting the ‘War on Terror’, which has seen the NZDF contributing to numerous multinational operations in the Middle East and other troubled areas. One of the NZDF’s latest military operations is Operation (Op) Manawa in Iraq. Op Manawa is what is known as a ‘Build Partner Capacity’ (BPC) mission where the NZDF, along with other coalition partners, have been training Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in support of their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[2] This training has been based out of Taji Military Complex (TMC). While the support that the NZDF have been providing ISF units on Op Manawa has been beneficial to their campaigns, NZ’s specified mandate has limited how much assistance the NZDF can provide on this mission relative to other coalition nations. Currently under the existing Op Manawa mandate the NZDF is restricted to only providing ‘behind the wire’ training to ISF units from inside secure coalition locations.[3] Other nations have the ability to not only train but also provide ‘Advise and Assist’ (A&A) support to ISF units while they progress forward in their operations against ISIL. This has proven to be very beneficial to the overall tactical plan and the long term mission of restoring power to the ISF and sovereignty to Iraq.


This paper aims to explain why and how NZ’s Operational Mandate should be changed to incorporate A&A capabilities as part of Op Manawa. It will do this by firstly explaining what A&A operations are and why it will be beneficial for the NZDF to provide this capability as part of Op Manawa. It will then illustrate how A&A capabilities can be effectively implemented to enhance mission success while maintaining safety to the NZDF’s personnel, equipment and credibility.

Operation Manawa

Op Manawa is NZ’s current mission in Iraq where NZDF personnel are working alongside multiple coalition forces as part of a BPC training mission. Up to 106 NZDF personnel are currently deployed to Iraq as part of the combined New Zealand (NZ), Australian and United Kingdom (UK) Training Team known as Task Group Taji (TGT).[4] TGT falls under a multi-national headquarters titled ‘Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJFLCC-OIR)’ who are responsible for all coalition force operations within Iraq. The purpose of the TGT BPC deployment is to train ISF to be able to conduct combat operations at a specified trained level, as agreed on by the ISF, CJFLCC-OIR and coalition trainers. It also aims to train ISF to a state where they are considered a self-sustaining capability for the Iraqi Government. The training provided by Op Manawa as part of TGT covers a broad range of military skills. These include basic weapon and battlecraft skills at the individual and unit level, as well as a variety of other skills such as medical training and logistical support to help sustain operations.[5]

Op Manawa commenced in May 2015. As at April 2017 TGT has trained over 21000 ISF soldiers from a variety of different backgrounds including army, Special Forces, federal police and other ISF units.[6] Many of these individuals and units have graduated from training and gone on to directly assist in areas of conflict across Iraq, such as the Anbar Province, Fallujah and Mosul, which were known ISIL strongholds. Op Manawa was initially due to last two years, however in 2016, the New Zealand Government reviewed the NZDF’s contribution and extended the deployment conclusion date to November 2018.[7] As part of this review, the mission’s mandate was also amended to allow small numbers of training and force protection teams to travel outside of Taji to other secure coalition locations to conduct BPC training with ISF units.[8] This was done to minimise the logistical burden on the ISF by sending trainers to them as opposed to units coming to TMC. TGT is permitted to conduct Mobile Training Teams (MTT) at Al Taqqadum Air Base (ATAB) located to the Southwest of TMC, however there is potential in the future to send elements to other secure locations throughout Iraq, for example; Besmayah Air Base which is located approximate 52 kilometers to the Southeast of TMC.[9] 

Definitions: BPC/ Advise and Assist

BPC is a designated location or unit that conducts training and equipping of forces in order to generate sufficient military capability required for specific missions. The training is predominantly collective and can be tailored for specific groups of security forces. The effect that BPC provides is a combination of “all activities that seek to train, equip, advise and assist a security force to build its capacity over time, enabling it to conduct immediate security operations and provide a long term security effect within its area of responsibility”.[10]

A&A is a characteristic of BPC missions. It still has an effect towards BPC, but is more specialised in how it is delivered. A&A comprises all activities that provide subject matter expertise, guidance, advice, and counsel to forces relative to its mission. It does not focus on collective training like BPC does. A&A operations may occur under combat administrative (planning) conditions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels and can occur at both at the individual and group levels.[11]

Activities involved in A&A can be broken down into ‘Advise’ and ‘Assist’ tasks. Activities specific to ‘advising’ include facilitating and influencing forces through means of guidance and improving through mutual professional relationships based on trust. It also includes observation, evaluation, and reporting on force performances in order to focus efforts and resources effectively during operational phases. Activities specific to assisting include providing forces direct and indirect enabler support to enhance the planning and conduct of operations, and to facilitate the application of Coalition Capabilities within defined authorities and limitations.[12]

A&A Examples within TMC  

A&A operations are already existent within TMC. The US Army currently has a logistical A&A team functioning within TMC conducting operational level logistical A&A to local ISF units. The team has a variety of specialist with a range of expertise that enables them to provide A&A capabilities in numerous logistical and administrative areas. These areas include, but are not limited to; multifunctional logistics, human resources, supply and ammunition, maintenance, medical, transport, and acquisitions and procurement.[13]

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) element of TGT-IV has been given government approval to conduct A&A tasks within the Division Headquarters located in TMC know as the Northern Baghdad Operations Centre (NBOC). The NBOC is responsible for the operations conducted by all the local Brigades operating in the Area of Operations (AO) immediately to the north of Baghdad. The ADF A&A team work with and guide the Divisional Headquarters in their day to day procedures and operations. The team provides A&A daily with three personnel allocated to the NBOC operations cell and one person allocated to the logistics cell.[14]

NZDF A&A Requirement  – OP MANAWA 

The reason why there is a requirement for the NZDF to conduct A&A operations as part of Op Manawa is that the operational environment in Iraq has drastically changed since the commencement of the NZDF operation. During the early Op Manawa rotations, in the build up to the ISF major offensives, ISF specifically requested combat focused BPC training. As a result of this, the training provided by TGT was primarily combat orientated and delivered predominantly to Iraqi Army units in preparation for these offensives.[15] As ISF secured more key areas within Iraq, the demand for training altered. The training audiences changed from being mainly Iraqi Army units to include a lot more units from other ISF areas, in particular hold force and police units, and the training delivered was adapted to suit the new requirements. Training was amended to not only incorporate combat training, but also a variety of training suited to hold force and police units.[16] The ISF demand for TGT services also expanded. Local ISF units wanted not only training but also A&A capabilities from TGT. This was to help develop their processes, knowledge and capabilities within their headquarters and was the reason for the introduction of the ADF A&A team.[17]

If the NZDF’s contribution to Iraq is to continue, options for maintaining relevance in a changing situation should be explored. NZ should consider providing A&A capabilities as part of Op Manawa to ensure it stays relevant to ISF operational requirements. By doing this the NZDF would gain credibility with both ISF and coalition forces, enhancing its reputation as a valued military partner. By providing NZDF personnel to conduct A&A, the overall A&A capability would also be enhanced within TGT through the individual skillsets, knowledge and values that the NZ personnel would contribute. This would have a positive impact on the overall ISF operations and development in the long term.

Risks to NZDF when conducting A&A operations

If the NZDF was to provide an A&A capability to ISF units within TMC using current staffing, it is likely that this would have a negative effect on current Op Manawa BPC outputs by taking away capability from other areas. This could be mitigated by keeping A&A teams small and selecting individuals to conduct A&A who have additional capacity within their current roles. Alternatively, it could be mitigated by increasing the Op Manawa staffing to include a fully separate A&A team thereby ensuring no negative effect on operational outputs.

It could be argued that there is a media or reputational risk to the NZDF by conducting A&A as part of Op Manawa. There is potential for media to misconstrue, or the public to misunderstand, the responsibilities and roles of the A&A teams and link what the NZDF are doing to combat operations conducted by the US and other coalition forces. The NZDF would need to clearly define and accurately portray the limitations of the A&A team and emphasise that there would be no change to current operating requirements.

There is potential when providing A&A to operational units that NZDF personnel could inadvertently be linked to ISF actions that fall outside of the stipulated operational mandate or NZDF ethos. An example of this is if an ISF element undergoing A&A was to breach the Laws of Armed Conflict. This could be mitigated by providing no A&A to local units while they are conducting kinetic or offensive operations. NZDF A&A should only be limited to supporting in the development of staff processes or providing logistical support. It is also recommended that if any events occur that could be considered outside of NZDF operational mandate that the NZDF personnel are to cease A&A operations until given clearance to recommence by the NZDF Senior National Officer.

Implementation of A&A operations on OP MANAWA 

Course of Action 1 – NZDF Only A&A Team:

The NZDF could look at implementing an A&A team consisting solely of NZDF personnel. The A&A team would be a task organised element capable of providing A&A up to divisional headquarters level that would mirror the ADF A&A team. At its simplest form it would consist of a small group of personnel with a background in combat, combat support and logistical functions and would include its own force protection element. The team would be able to A&A local units in developing logistical, planning and staff processes within their headquarters.

The advantage of this course of action (COA) is that the NZDF would be in full control of what the A&A team carries out. This would minimise the reputational risk to the NZDF and ensure all activities are conducted in accordance with NZ ROE. It would also provide TGT with the flexibility to expand A&A operations to other BPC locations within the future due to the redundancy a second team would provide. The potential drawback to this COA is that it would require NZDF to modify its current Op Manawa staffing to include a fully segregated A&A team with force protection. The reason for this is that it is assessed that it would be too difficult to implement using the existing capability without significantly affecting current BPC operational outputs.

Course of Action 2 – Integrated ADF/NZDF A&A Team:

The NZDF could integrate into the existing ADF A&A team to enhance or take responsibility for some of their capabilities. There are multiple ways of constructing this approach. One option is to split the current responsibility of the A&A team in half. Alternatively the NZDF could reinforce the existing A&A team by providing additional personnel who could reinforce the logistics and operations cells and add to their capability.

An advantage to this COA is that the NZDF could most likely achieve the staffing requirements using the existing Op Manawa staffing as there would be no additional force protection and minimal A&A personnel required. It is still proposed however that the NZDF increase its staffing to cover A&A personnel at minimum to provide minimal disturbance to current operational capabilities. Another advantage to this COA is that the relationships with the local divisional headquarters already exist so would not need to be generated by the team. One drawback to this COA is that the NZDF does not have full control over what the A&A team undertakes and there is the potential for the ADF to be more ambitious in this area than the NZDF is comfortable with. If members of the A&A team provide advise to kinetic or targeting operations, the NZDF could be unintentionally associated with these acts. This could pose a media or reputational risk as mentioned earlier and strict guidelines would have to be put in place to mitigate this concern.


The BPC training efforts that the NZDF have been providing ISF as part of Op Manawa have been very beneficial to date. Due to the changing operational environment however, training alone is now not enough to sufficiently meet the operational requirements of the ISF to TGT.

By incorporating A&A capabilities into the current Op Manawa mandate, the benefit the NZDF can provide the ISF with will be much greater and assist in achieving their operational demands. The NZDF can effectively implement A&A into Op Manawa without increasing risk to NZDF personnel and reducing operational capability provided it is implemented effectively.

Overall, by providing A&A as part of Op Manawa the NZDF will be enhancing its reputation with ISF and coalition partners, increasing the capability of TGT and developing and empowering ISF for when coalition forces begin to draw down.


In accordance with the above conclusions the following recommendations should be considered in order to implement A&A capabilities on Op Manawa:

  1. NZDF should integrate with the current TGT ADF A&A team to minimise the burden on staffing and capabilities.
  2. Additional positions should be added to the current Op Manawa staffing to minimise the impact on the current operational capabilities and outputs.
  3. The NZDF should provide no A&A to local units while they are conducting kinetic or offensive operations. NZDF A&A should only be limited to supporting in the development of staff processes or providing logistical support. If any events occur that could be considered outside of NZDF ROE the NZDF personnel are to cease A&A operations until given clearance to recommence by the NZDF Senior National Officer.
  4. The NZDF would need to clearly define and portray the limitations of the A&A team to the media and NZ public to emphasise that there would be no change to current operating requirements and that the NZDF will not be partaking or assisting in kinetic activities.




  1. US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, 10 October 2007
  2. /iraq-deployment/default.htm
  8. JDN 1-13, CH3, section 5.e and JP 3-07, Section 3.C.5.


[1] US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, 10 October 2007

[2] /iraq-deployment/default.htm





[7] /iraq-deployment/default.htm



[10]   JDN 1-13, CH3, section 5.e and JP 3-07, Section 3.C.5.

[11]   JDN 1-13, CH3, section 5.e and JP 3-07, Section 3.C.5.

[12] JDN 1-13, CH3, section 5.e and JP 3-07, Section 3.C.5.