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Royal New Zealand Air Force Force Protection
Active RNZAF Police (1951–1999)
Air Security Police (2000–2006)
Air Security(2007–2009)
Force Protection(2010–present)
Country  New Zealand
Branch Royal New Zealand Air Force
Role Service Police / Ground Defence
Part of New Zealand Defence Force
Patch White "FP" on Dark Blue Patch on the right arm with Working (Camouflage) Dress

RNZAF Force Protection is the Royal New Zealand Air Force unit responsible for Base Security and Investigations, Ground Defence, Service Policing, and Core Military Skills. The unit currently operates under No. 209 Squadron, RNZAF, and has several different specialties which include Physical Training Instructors, Survival Instructors, Military Working Dog Handlers, and Force Protection Operators/Specialists (FPOPRs/FPSPECs).

Force Protection personnel are unique in that throughout their initial training they specialise in four different areas, namely Service Policing, Ground Defence, Core Military Skills, and a role recently acquired due to restructuring in the RNZAF, Physical Training Instructors (PTI's). PTI's still remain separate with their own identity and maintain an important function for fitness testing, aircrew testing and base events.

RNZAF Force Protection are more commonly known in the RNZAF simply as the "FPs". They have a similar role to Air Force units such as USAF Security Forces, RAAF Security Police, however Force Protection is smaller in size compared to their American and Australian counterparts. The primary role of Force Protection is to provide the Air Force with security of aircraft, personnel, and protection of airfields.

Military Working Dog Unit

The Military Working Dog (MWD) unit provides a further security function, and works closely with their FP team members. The MWD unit was first established in the early 1960s when the RNZAF purchased six P-3 Orion, due to the high tech nature of systems and equipment on these aircraft the RNZAF Police military working dogs were seen as the most effective form of security. The MWD unit holds extra responsibility for these aircraft and plays a very important role in protecting them from sabotage and acting as a deterrent around RNZAF bases or when deployed overseas. Currently in the New Zealand Defence Force the RNZAF maintain the only MWD capability, dogs for the unit are usually sourced from the New Zealand Police, all dog breeds are German Shepherds. In the future there are plans to expand the MWD unit due to the recent upgrades on the P-3 Orion, C-130 Hercules and the purchase of NH-90 and A-109 helicopters. The Military Working Dog unit is a specialisation and personnel are selected for this role once they have completed at least two to three years as an Force Protection Operator. Currently the Military Working Dog unit is located at RNZAF Base Whenuapai.


The RNZAF Police was originally developed to 'Police' the Air Force with an RNZAF Police Commissioned Officer appointed as a Provost Officer and Non-Commissioned Officers acting on behalf of them. This then provided authority for junior NCO's(Corporals) to provide jurisdiction over service people subject to the Armed Forces Disciplinary Act. RNZAF Police deployed overseas to many conflicts and war zones and were also part of the international military police team at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow from 1979 to 1985 as well as working in Singapore from 1972 to 1989 as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. A small contingent of RNZAF Police also deployed to the Iran/Iraq conflict in the late 1980s. They also deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 as part of an international military police unit and to support elements of RNZAF personnel and aircraft comprising Hawker Siddeley Andover of 42 Squadron and C-130 Hercules of 40 Squadron RNZAF.

Force Protection traces its lineage back to the RNZAF Police. In 1999 many areas of the Air Force underwent significant change, cost saving and disbandment. The RNZAF Police was no exception and in a controversial move this saw the amalgamation of General Service Instructors (GSI's) with the RNZAF Police, subsequently many RNZAF Police left the service shortly after the almagamation. The RNZAF moved away from a sole focused policing role, and specialised more in ground defence and base security with policing as a secondary service. A name change to Air Security Police was adopted and the new unit was deployed to East Timor in 1999/2000. However, this proved to be an inauspicious start for the new trade that ended with the Air Security deployment being the subject of a court of inquiry. This inquiry found severe organizational and management problems stemming from a lack of leadership and resentment towards the amalgamation of the two trades. This can be found at .< Underlying issues of direction, focus and responsibilities continued to dog the new trade for several years. A further name change in 2010 has now seen the name change to RNZAF Force Protection.

Selection and training

Applicants attend a 3-day selection in order to be considered for training on a 16-week Force Protection course. After initially completing RNZAF Recruit Course, successful applicants then move on to Force Protection training which is conducted at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, where personnel learn advanced ground defence, physical fitness, patrolling, camouflage and concealment, bushcraft, survival techniques, base security and investigations, weapons, CBRN, and instructional techniques. On successful completion of the course trainees are then posted to an operational unit either at RNZAF Base Ohakea or RNZAF Base Auckland. A small Security and Investigations Detachment is based at RNZAF Base Woodbourne.

After two years posted to a unit and completing four senior modules FPOPR's then obtain an increase in rank (moving up to an LAC), and are redesignated as FPSPEC's, where team members then choose to stream into one of three roles, Physical Training Instructors, Service Police/ Military Working Dog Unit, or Ground Defence. Physical Training Specialists then go on to complete the full six month course run in conjunction with the NZ Army, and Royal New Zealand Navy at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, Ground Defence Specialists then go onto complete further training which includes CBRN Instructors, and Weapons Range Instructors course. Security & Investigations Specialists then complete further Service Police training with the Royal New Zealand Military Police, or stream into the Military Working Dog Unit with further training provided in house. All Service Police training is carried out at the NZ Army base in Trentham, this is currently a tri-service school and uses instructors from all three services, Army, Navy and Air Force. All personnel complete an intensive three month course and then return to their respective units. There are also attachments to the RNZAF Survival School where a two-year posting would then see members return to their original unit.

Force Protection personnel complete Military Self Defence courses annually. Personnel also complete Heavy and Light 4WD courses to ensure they are competent in all aspects of on/off road driving.

FPSPEC's are also responsible for all drill and weapons training for RNZAF Personnel. Command and Recruit Training Squadron (CRTS) at RNZAF Base Woodbourne have a number of FPSPEC's to instruct and train Officer Cadets and Recruits in their initial phases of trainin


In the early days of the RNZAF Police and during the period of the Air Security Police service personnel were identifiable by their brassards worn on their dress blues or DPM's. The RNZAF Police brassard was worn and identifiable by the red and black colouring, sometimes referred to as 'mars bars'. RNZAF Police also wore white service dress hats just as the RAF Police also used, and were occasionally referred to as 'snowdrops' like their RAF Police counterparts - however more often than not, informally and even formally on occasions, the RNZAF Police were referred to as 'Provo's' . Military Working Dog Handlers were issued with blue berets to identify them as MWD handlers. Following trade amalgamation in 1999/2000 Air Security Police moved to a blue brassard with white lettering displaying the name of 'Air Security Police'. It was representative of legal authority and identified the wearer as a military policeman.

Since 2010 Force Protection personnel are identifiable by the 'FP' badge worn on the right sleeve of their DPM uniforms, similar to the 'MP' badge the Royal New Zealand Military Police wear although different in colour. Brassards are no longer worn by Force Protection.


  • Searching aircraft passengers
  • Protection of airfields
  • Security and guarding of aircraft
  • Searching of aircraft cargo
  • Service Policing
  • Investigations
  • Weapons and CBRN training for RNZAF personnel
  • Drill and Ceremonial duties


Force Protection is tasked with protecting RNZAF assets and its personnel, military discipline, investigations and general police and security duties. Air Transport Security Missions and VIP flights aboard Air Force aircraft are usually a regular occurrence and exercises overseas has seen many team members of Force Protection travel extensively throughout both New Zealand and the world.


Force Protection unit is usually commanded by a junior officer such as a Flight Lieutenant and Senior NCOs such as Sergeants acting as a 2IC. A Warrant Officer may also act as a flight commander. Usually a Corporal will command the junior team members.

See also

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