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 specialize 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 specialization 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.
History 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 specialized 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 and also the Solomon Islands in 2003. A further name change in 2010 has now seen the name change to RNZAF Force Protection.