RNZAF Security Forces

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RNZAF Security Forces
  • RNZAF Police (1945-1999)
  • Air Security Police (2000–2009)
  • Force Protection (2010–2015)
  • Security Forces (2016–Present)
Country New Zealand
BranchAir Force Ensign of New Zealand.svg Royal New Zealand Air Force
TypeAir Force Infantry
RoleSecurity & Ground Defence
Part ofNew Zealand Defence Force
Garrison/HQRNZAF Base Auckland
Colours Black and White
PatchTo be confirmed

RNZAF Security Forces is the Royal New Zealand Air Force unit responsible for security and Ground Defence as well as training on Core Military Skills. As of March 2015 following a major reorganisation of the RNZAF, No. 209 Expeditionary Support Squadron was disbanded and renamed as Operations Squadron. RNZAF Security Forces now operates under this new squadron.

RNZAF Security Forces are more commonly known in the RNZAF simply as SECFOR. They have a similar role to other Air Force units such as USAF Security Forces, RAAF Security Force Squadrons, and the RAF Regiment however it is smaller in size compared to their UK, American and Australian counterparts. The primary role of RNZAF Security Forces is to provide the Air Force with security of aircraft & personnel, as well as protection of airfields.

Military Working Dog unit[edit]

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 1967 when the RNZAF purchased six P-3 Orions; 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 RNZAF 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 a Security Forces Operator. Currently the Military Working Dog unit is located at RNZAF Base Auckland with plans in the future to expand the dog unit to RNZAF Base Ohakea.


RNZAF Security Forces traces its lineage back to the RNZAF Police. Over the years the unit has seen various name and role changes. Today RNZAF Security Forces primary job is Air Base protection, Security, and weapons training for RNZAF personnel.

A RNZAF Force Protection corporal in 2011

RNZAF Police

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 NCOs (corporals) to provide jurisdiction over service people subject to the Armed Forces Disciplinary Act 1971.

RNZAF Police were distinguishable by their white Service dress hats, red and black arm bands with "RNZAF Police" displayed on a small brassard worn on the right arm. They were commonly referred to as "Snowdrops" due to the white Service dress hats or "Provos."

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 No. 42 Squadron RNZAF and C-130 Hercules of No. 40 Squadron RNZAF.

In 1994 a group of 4 RNZAF Police personnel deployed with No. 40 Squadron RNZAF (1 x C-130 aircraft) to provide security for the Squadron as they worked with the UNHCR to provide Humanitarian aid after the Rwandan Crises and Genocide.

The RNZAF Police was disbanded in 1999.

Air Security Police

In 1999–2001 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 (GSIs) with the RNZAF Police, subsequently many RNZAF Police and GSIs 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.[1] Underlying issues of direction, focus and responsibilities continued to dog the new trade for several years.

Force Protection

In 2010 following the civilianisation of many trades in the RNZAF the Air Security trade were also to be changed to Force Protection. This signified the end of many Policing roles instead an Investigation service was provided and a new focus primarily on providing security services to the RNZAF.

On 1 December 2014 all Military Police duties were removed from Force Protection and taken over by the newly established New Zealand Defence Force Military Police. 12 Force Protection personnel from the Investigation branch transferred into the new unit.

Security Forces

In March 2016 RNZAF command decided that the Force Protection name was a very broad concept and to better align itself with other western Air Forces, predominately the RAAF and USAF, a name change to RNZAF Security Forces was more appropriate. The new name also truly reflected the role of the unit.

Selection and training[edit]

Applicants attend a 3-day selection in order to be considered for training on a 16-week Security Forces course. After initially completing RNZAF Recruit Course, successful applicants then move on to Security Forces 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, 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.

After two years posted to a unit and completing four senior modules Security Forces Operators then obtain an increase in classification (moving up to LAC), and are redesignated as Security Forces Specialists where team members then choose to stream into one of two roles, Military Working Dog Unit, or Ground Defence Specialist which also comprises all security functions.

There are also attachments to the RNZAF Survival School where after completion of a three-year posting would then see Security Forces personnel return to their SECFOR flight.

Security Forces 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.

SECFOR 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 Security Forces Operators to instruct and train officer cadets and recruits in their initial phases of training.


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 DPMs. 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.


  • Searching aircraft passengers
  • Protection of airfields
  • Air Base Protection
  • Security and guarding of aircraft
  • Searching of aircraft cargo
  • Weapons training.
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear training.
  • Drill and Ceremonial duties.


Security Forces is tasked with Air Transport Security (ATSY), protecting airfields and RNZAF personnel, security duties, weapons instruction, drill instruction and CBRN training.

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 Security Forces travel extensively throughout both New Zealand and the world.


Security Forces 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 a four-man operational team with a Leading Aircraftman (LAC) acting as the 2IC.


Non-Lethal Weapons[edit]

  • ASP Expandable Baton
  • ASP Handcuffs
ASP 21" tactical baton in expanded and collapsed states.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Zealand Defence Force: Deployment to East Timor – Performance of the Helicopter Detachment" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-09-04. C1 control character in |title= at position 54 (help)