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RNZAF Police on duty at Exercise Pitch Black

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Police were amongst the trades who participated in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia’s Northern Territory during August and September, deploying to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Bases Tindal and Darwin.

07 September, 2022

Exercise Pitch Black is a large-scale collective air training activity that takes place biennially in the Northern Territory This year’s exercise took place from 19 August to 8 September and included over 100 aircraft, 2500 people and 17 nations in total. 

Military Police are responsible for protecting New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel and resources from crime and keeping personnel safe. They are also responsible for investigating crimes and providing close protection in high-risk situations.

Sergeant Sam Fulton was embedded with the Joint Military Police Unit at RAAF Base Tindal. The unit covers all three services, similar to how military police operate in the NZDF. 

“Wherever we base any NZDF contingent, whether on deployment, exercises abroad or at home, there is a need to have an MP,” SGT Fulton said. 

“Things do happen on exercise, and we need to be able to deal with any situation and provide that support to the contingent commander. Our role is to ensure that our personnel adhere to the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, so that if anything does happen on exercise it will be dealt with by us quickly and efficiently.

“The MP training that we receive over our career puts us in good stead to work anywhere around the world, so policing in a place like Tindal and Katherine where there is one bar for the entire town is unique. There is a mixture of all sorts of people, locals, tourists, foreign forces, and when you combine that with 40-degree heat and alcohol, anything can happen.

“Everything that we’d normally do at home, we did on Pitch Black. Monitoring the speed of vehicles on base, bar and welfare checks, ID checks, any sort of discipline issues, and sorting out any incidents that occur in town or on base.

“But it’s not all just about putting handcuffs on people and arresting them, there is a lot more to it than that. I would say making sure our people know where the line is and to not cross it, but at the same time also making sure they enjoy themselves -  it’s a fine balance. I also ensure the NZDF contingent are kept safe whilst on exercise.” 

“I highly recommend a career in the RNZAF Police, I have really enjoyed my time in this job. There are a range of different roles in the military police, and all sorts of New Zealand Police courses you can do, as well as military police exchanges with some of our closest partner nations.”