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Isabelle Cowley - Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla's Captain Isabelle Cowley will spend this Anzac Day deployed in Iraq for Operation Okra.

Captain Cowley is deployed to Task Group Taji Rotation Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that's training Iraqi Security Forces just north of Baghdad.

For the next few months, she is based at the Taji Military Complex, where she's leading a small team of experienced trainers who are instructing Iraqi soldiers and policemen in a wide range of military skills from marksmanship to infantry tactics.

"Training the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has been a lot of fun - they're great guys who are really keen to learn and develop their skills in order to protect their country," she said.

"The ISF are progressing well through training, they're respectful of the instructors and I believe the training we're offering is making a big difference."

Growing up in Cunnamulla, Captain Cowley attended the local primary school before moving with her family to Sydney to complete her education.

After she commissioned as an officer at Duntroon in December 2013, she was posted to 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.

"I was always attracted to the military lifestyle and was honoured when I was selected to attend the Royal Military College – Duntroon," she said.

"It was amazing to then be allocated to Royal Australian Artillery on graduating."

Captain Cowley has been posted to 8th/12th Regiment since January 2014 where she has performed the duties of Troop Commander, Gun Position Officer and Battery Captain.

"I've really enjoyed my years at 8th/12th Regiment and consider myself very lucky to be deployed to the Middle East," she said.

"Last year (2016) was a busy year for all of the regiment but the tempo set me up really well for deploying with Task Group Taji 4.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to the regiment to fulfil the role of Joint Fires Team Commander.

"I am also looking forward to seeing my partner in Sydney, having my parents come to visit me in Darwin and getting cuddles from my niece who will be 10 months old when I return to Australia."

Captain Cowley said it is difficult being away from loved ones for such a long time.

"What helps is that everyone is in the same position," she said.

"You rely heavily on your 'new' family over here to support you and help you deal with the distance.

"Receiving parcels from home is also great.

"We all hang out for mail delivery days, especially coming up to Easter and Anzac Day.

"Cadbury Dairy Milk Easter eggs are the new currency for the Task Group."

Captain Cowley said she is looking forward to commemorating Anzac Day in Iraq with the New Zealand Task Group members.

"To be with them is extra-special, and I would like to thank everyone back home this Anzac Day, as they continue to support our mission in the Middle East."

Captain Isabelle Cowley is a member of Task Group Taji Four, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.

There are about 300 Australian and 100 New Zealanders in the Task Group.