Combined Cadet Force

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Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
CCF logo.JPG
Country United Kingdom
AllegianceTo Her Majesty the Queen
TypeYouth Organisation
RoleLeadership and disipline education
Size43, 400 Cadets[1]
3,640 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers
Garrison/HQHMS Bristol (RN CCF)
WebsiteCombined Cadet Force
Commandant Air Cadets (RAF CCF)UK-Air-OF6-Flag.svg Air Cdre. Dawn McCafferty RAF(R)
President of Combined Cadet Force AssociationFlag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Vice Admiral P Hudson CB CBE
Vice President of Combined Cadet Force Association

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a Ministry of Defence (MOD) sponsored youth organisation in the United Kingdom. Its aim is to "provide a disciplined organisation in a school so that pupils may develop powers of leadership by means of training to promote the qualities of responsibility, self reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance". It is not a pre-service organisation, although it acknowledges that one of its objectives is "to encourage those who have an interest in the services to become Officers of the Regular or Reserve Forces", and a significant number of officers have indeed had experience in the CCF. Prior to 1948 cadet forces in schools existed as the junior division of the Officers' Training Corps framework, but in 1948 Combined Cadet Force was formed covering cadets affiliated to all three services.

As of 2018 there were 43,400[2] Cadets and 3,640 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV)[3] The MOD provides approximately £28M per year of funding to the CCF.[4]


The CCF was created in 1948[5] by the amalgamation of the Junior Training Corps (formerly the Junior Division of the Officers Training Corps) and the school contingents of the Sea Cadet Corps and Air Training Corps. CCFs are still occasionally referred to as "The Corps". On 12 May 1859, the Secretary of State for War, Jonathan Peel, sent out a circular letter to the public schools and universities inviting them to form units of the Volunteer Corps.[6] The first school cadet corps was established at Rossall School in February 1860,[7] initially as an army contingent only. Felsted already had an armed drill contingent at the time of the War Office letter under the command of Sgt. Major Rogers RM; its claim on these grounds to be the oldest school corps was upheld by Field Marshal Earl Roberts in a letter to the Headmaster of 1904.[8] In February 1861 the Oxford City Rifle Cadet Corps was founded, with five companies, the first of which was composed of pupils of the Linden House School, a private school in Headington.[9] In 1908, the units were re-titled the Officer Training Corps (OTC).[10] A school contingent may have any combination of Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and sometimes Royal Marines sections, the army section is almost invariably the largest.

Independent and state schools[edit]

The CCF movement is dominated by the independent sector with 200 contingents still being based in independent schools with only around 60 in state schools.[11] It was reported in 2008 that some private school CCF detachments would be opened to pupils of local state schools[12] however there was no resultant change.[11]

[13] Unlike established CCFs, the MoD’s model to expand cadet forces into schools require new schools with cadet units to either sponsor their own cadets or find a third party sponsor who can meet some of the cost to the MoD of funding and training Cadet Forces. Therefore, costs to schools involved are considerable, at over £200 per cadet per year and many thousands of pounds more for a cadet force to become an independent unit.[14]


In July 2014 the following changes to CCF funding were proposed:

  • From September 2015, MOD will no longer make a Contingent Grant. Schools would need to determine how best to fund those costs currently met by the grant.
  • From September 2016, MOD will no longer fund the remuneration of adult volunteers.
  • From September 2017, MOD will apply an additional charge to cover running costs, such as uniform, rations, and ammunition. In this year the charge will be about £75 per cadet per year, applied termly in arrears.
  • From September 2018, the charge will rise to £150 per cadet per year.

A Memorandum of Understanding, setting out what the MOD and each school are expected to provide, is under development.[15]

In January 2015, the proposal was shelved, and all funding was to remain in place, as well as removing the requirement of CEP cadets having to pay an annual fee[citation needed].


CCF Contingents are a unique branch of the forces family, in that they are both part of a wider organisation [the CCF], but are also part of their own school and as such are semi-autonomous organisations, run by internal school (or otherwise school-related) staff, supported by regular Army persons. This differs slightly to the community cadet forces which are run by staff from all over their county. Army sections may wear their own capbadge. This might consist of the school/college logo or crest and a crown/coat-of-arms or etc of various different designs. However, regular Army/cadet forces headgear is worn with this capbadge. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force sections wear the appropriate RN/RAF other rank and officer capbadges.


Cadets during commemorations in Jersey 2013. Showing the RAF Section uniform (left) and Army Section uniform (right)

Royal Navy Section[edit]

They may be issued with combat uniform if required and some schools have No 1 uniform for senior cadets[citation needed].

Number 3 uniform[edit]

This is normally the parade uniform for the CCF(RN)[citation needed] and consists of a white Shirt, black tie, blue trousers, and blue heavy wool jersey, worn with plain black shoes, a Brassard should be worn on the right arm, displaying qualification badges.

Number 4 uniform[edit]

This is the standard working uniform of the Royal Navy, in one form or another it has been in existence for over 60 years. This uniform is fire retardant and consists of a blue shirt, clue trousers, blue heavy wool jersey, beret, with CCF badge and black boots.

Royal Marines Section[edit]

Royal Marines sections wear the bronzed Royal Marines badge with a red "tombstone" backing on a blue beret with MTP (Multi-Terrain Pattern) clothing, and either brown or black boots.

Army Section[edit]

The Army Section dress regulations are similar to those of the ACF and can be found in the same chapter of the Army Dress Regulations. The cadet wears the headdress of their affiliated regiment or corps, or their school cap badge on a dark blue beret. Cadets are issued with Multi-terrain pattern uniform (MTP), and are to wear their qualification badges on the blanking plate on their uniform on the right arm. A contingent badge may be worn on the left. All cadets wear an olive green or MTP rank slide with the word "CADET" in embroidered red capital letters at the top. Any rank is then shown underneath in black. Additionally, cadets may be given permission to wear a stable belt of CCF, school, or affiliated unit pattern.

Royal Air Force Section[edit]

RAF cadets wear a version of the No.2 dress. This consists of either light blue shirt and tie or a dark "working" blue shirt, blue-grey trousers (male cadets) or skirt/slacks (female cadets), a blue-grey jumper: V-neck or round neck version, and an RAF blue beret with the RAF cap badge. They also wear a brassard to distinguish themselves as cadets. Excepting the cap badge, this is identical to the uniform of the ATC and regulations for its wear can be found in AP1358C. Most RAF sections issue cadets with combat clothing, most still wearing the old CS95 whereas some are being issued with Multi-terrain pattern uniform (MTP).

Stable Belts[edit]

Royal Navy Section, Combined Cadet Force Royal Marines Section, Combined Cadet Force Army Section, Combined Cadet Force
RAF Section, Combined Cadet Force


Army Cadet Force (ACF) Cadets during the Battle of Jersey commemoration in 2013
Royal Navy Cadets, during a Royal Visit at Victoria College, Jersey

The MOD Sponsored Cadet Forces Statistics are published annually[16]. This annual publication presents figures on the number of Cadets and Adult Volunteers in the Cadet Forces sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Statistics are provided for the Community Cadets (the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) and Volunteer Cadet Corps (VCC), Army Cadet Force (ACF) and Air Training Corps (ATC)) and the Combined Cadet Force. The Volunteer Cadet Corps (VCC) is included in these statistics for the first time, as its status changed to become the fifth MOD sponsored cadet force in 2017[17].

Section Cadets
Army 30,100[18]
Royal Air Force 7,660[19]
RN/RM 5,640[20]
Total 43,400[21]

In October 2007 the under-secretary of state for defence gave details of the total number of CCF sections, and the number present in state schools.[22] As of 2012 under the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP) 100 new CCF Units were created in State Schools.[23]

Section No. of sections No. in state schools
Army 359 161
Royal Air Force 199 41
Royal Navy 110 12
Royal Marines 18 1

Cadet ranks[edit]

Most Cadet ranks are standard non-commissioned ranks, prefixed by "Cadet", for day-to-day administration the "Cadet" prefix is often omitted. The highest rank depends on the size of the contingent, but are usually Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major, (Army and RM Sections) and Cadet Warrant Officer (RN and RAF Sections). Some contingents may have Junior (and sometimes Senior) Under Officers. Cadet Under Officers' rank badges are blue bands 12 mm wide across each shoulder slide, with the addition of the letters CCF underneath.

The "Cadet" prefix is omitted from all ranks during the day-to-day running of activities. Cadet Warrant Officers are to be addressed as “Warrant Officer” and all other cadets by their rank, "Flight Sergeant", "Sergeant" or "Corporal", as the case may be. In some contingents it is tradition for cadets to refer to Cadet Warrant Officers and Cadet Company or Regimental Sergeant Majors as "Sir or Ma'am".

Army and Royal Marines RAF RN*
Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major[24] Cadet Warrant Officer Cadet Warrant Officer
Cadet Company Sergeant Major No equivalent No equivalent
Cadet Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant[24]
Cadet Staff/Colour Sergeant Cadet Flight Sergeant Cadet Chief Petty Officer
Cadet Sergeant Cadet Sergeant Cadet Petty Officer
Cadet Corporal (or Bombardier) Cadet Corporal Cadet Leading Hand
Cadet Lance Corporal (or Lance Bombardier) Cadet Lance Corporal Able Cadet 3 Star
Able Cadet 2 Star
Able Cadet 1 Star
Cadet Cadet Cadet

Some schools may appoint a Cadet NCO to become a Quartermaster, where the Cadet will undertake the responsibility of maintaining the CCF Equipment and ensuring that all uniform is in good condition and issued when appropriate. The Quartermaster may also be in charge of resolving disputes or behavioural issues within the section.

The CCF is separate from the Community Cadet Forces namely the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps, and the other MOD recognized cadet force Volunteer Cadet Corps. Pupils normally join at the age of 13 or 14 (Year 9), with both sexes able to take part.

Cadet Force adult volunteers[edit]

Unlike the other cadet organisations (ATC/SCC/ACF), most adult volunteers are officers, the exception often being the School Staff Instructor (see below). CCF officers are often teachers from the school, and are not normally eligible to be called up.[citation needed] The Army and RAF officers hold an acting rank up to and including lieutenant colonel (the highest substantive rank being that of lieutenant) or its equivalent in the other services.[citation needed] Until 2018 CCF(Army) and CCF(RAF) Officers were in special categories of the reserves of their service. Conversely, CCF(RN) Officers were 'appointed' and did not hold commissions. However, from 2018 all CCF officers will hold a Cadet Force Commission [25] and, as civilians, are no longer subject to Service law.

CCF(RN) ranks are the same as for RN (and RNR) officers with the suffix (CCF)RNR, but their rank braid is 'wavy' as used in the past by the RNVR. CCF(Army) officers wear a "CCF" legend on their rank slides. Unlike officers in the Army Cadet Force, CCF(Army) officers do not attend the Cadet Forces Commissions Board of the Army Officer Selection Board and are commissioned based on recommendation from the Headmaster of the employing school and confirmed by the relevant territorial Brigade. CCF(RAF) officers attend the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre and their rank slides are emblazoned with the legend 'RAF Air Cadets'.[26] Some prospective officers may be appointed as an "Adult Under Officer", awaiting commissioning[27]. As commissioned officers, CCF officers carry a Ministry of Defence - Cadet Forces identity (ID) card, with service number, rank and identifying information on.

Supporting officers in the running of the Contingent is the School Staff Instructor (SSI) - usually a retired Senior Non-commissioned Officer (SNCO) or Warrant Officer. Although they are civilians, they retain their rank as a courtesy and are employed by the school to instruct and assist in the running of the Contingent.[28] Whilst the majority of the SSIs are SNCOs it is also possible for them to be a commissioned officer. Intersetingly, as they retian their rank SSIs do not wear "CCF" titles on uniform. There is usually only one SSI per Contingent and they are also supported by other external staff, including the RN's Area Instructors, various Brigade Cadet Training Teams (CTTs) and RAF TEST SNCOs.

Like the community cadet forces, some Contingents may have one or more Civilian Instructors (CI). These are adult volunteers who may instruct in either a specialist (first aid, signals, etc.) or more generalised role when the establishment level of officers does not include sufficient suitably qualified and experienced personnel to teach these subjects. They receive no pay for time spent with cadets but may claim reimbursement for expenses at the Contingent Commander's discretion. Many are members of the academic or support staff at the school.[citation needed]

Section CFAV
Army 2,300[29]
Royal Air Force 610[30]
RN/RM 730[31]
Total 3,640[32]

Officer ranks[edit]

RN ((CCF) RNR) Army (Army Reserve Group B/from 2018 - Cadet Forces Commission) RAF (RAFAC)
Acting Commander Acting Lieutenant Colonel Acting Wing Commander
Acting Lieutenant Commander Acting Major Acting Squadron Leader
Acting Lieutenant Acting Captain Acting Flight Lieutenant
Acting Sub Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
No direct equivalent Second Lieutenant Pilot Officer


The different sections have different syllabuses with a degree of overlap. All the sections learn drill and all cadets are trained to fire the L98A2 5.56 mm Cadet General Purpose rifle, a semi-automatic only version of the L85A2 used by the UK armed forces. There are also opportunities to fire the .22 No.8 rifle and the L81 Cadet Target Rifle.

Cadets in the Royal Navy section receive instruction in boat-work and other naval subjects (including flying with the Fleet Air Arm). The Royal Navy also offers many CCF courses during the school holidays which are open to any members of any CCF. The Royal Marines section, although a part of the Navy, tend to train independently, covering battle drills, weapons handling and marksmanship, fieldcraft, camouflage and concealment and the history of the Royal Marines.

Army section cadets are sometimes able to specialise in subjects such as signalling, REME skills, and infantry tactics, and are trained accordingly. The 2006 Health and Safety/Child Protection legislation (and fallout from the Deepcut affair) mandated that cadets must be housed separately by both gender and age (under 18s and over 18s), due to most MOD accommodation not being able to accommodate this, there was a reduction in the number of courses based at MOD facilities offered to cadets.[citation needed]

RAF section cadets are given the opportunity to fly in both powered aircraft, most notably the Grob Tutor and Vigilant and in unpowered gliders such as the Grob Viking; their training and flying courses are identical to those available to members of the Air Training Corps. As well as that the Cadets can also be involved in a multitude of battle training and tactics as well as opportunities to fly in various aircraft from the RAF and allied nations. The section also will learn about aerospace management, the structure of aircraft and propulsion, engineering, air power as well as an opportunity to see how most RAF stations, sections and wings or squadrons operate. As well as practical learning, RAF cadets also follow an academic syllabus. Cadets are usually taught "Part 1" before being expected to complete Parts 2 - 4 by themselves through the medium of Ultilearn. Completing Part 4, also known as the Master Cadet Award, leads to a BTEC Level 2 in Aviation Studies being awarded.

All sections can undertake leadership courses at Frimley Park, Nesscliffe, or RAF Cranwell, as well as adventurous training. There are also other courses available for cadets to enhance their skills, such as Junior and Senior Cadet Instructor Courses (JCIC, SCIC) and Method of Instruction (MOI).

Alternative organisations[edit]

Some schools recognise that pupils may not wish to participate in CCF activities and so alternative organisations exist, such as the Community Service Organisation, which allows pupils to volunteer to help in hospitals, schools, and charity work.[33][34]

Other activities often on offer are:

Most schools, however, make CCF attendance voluntary, which tends to reduce numbers compared to compulsory contingents, but potentially results in a more uniformly dedicated membership that responds well to training as well as CCF activities many CCFs also offer the chance for RYA, National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes, BTEC and Duke of Edinburgh qualifications[citation needed] on top of their CCF training programmes.

Some of the voluntary CCF schools also run the other options such as community service.

See also[edit]

Elements of the Community Cadet Forces

Other MoD sponsored or recognized cadet forces

Related articles


  1. ^ MoD - reserves and cadet strengths, table 8b page 18. April 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Letter Assistant Head Youth and Cadets, Reserves Forces and Cadets, D/DRFC/4/1/5, 8 August 2014
  5. ^ The History of the Combined Cadet Force Archived 29 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine.,
  6. ^ 'History of Felsted School (1564–1947)' by Michael Craze
  7. ^ "Combined Cadet Force (CCF)". Rossall School. Retrieved 12 April 2009. It has, however, been established that Rossall was the first public school to enrol Volunteers and have them sworn in under the provisions of the Volunteer Act, and we have the original muster book in which the first names were entered on 1st February, 1860. Other Corps at Eton, Felsted, etc., were raised within a month or two.
  8. ^ 'History of Felsted School 1564-1947', Michael Craze
  9. ^ Giles Hudson, "Shots of Shots: Photographs of the Oxford Volunteer Rifle Corps", Matters Photographical (1 Dec 2012)
  10. ^ Air Cadets - History,
  11. ^ a b Henry, Julie (2012-01-08). "Military cadet forces in every school, says schools commissioner". The Daily Telegraph.
  12. ^ Garner, Richard (20 September 2008). "Private schools will let state pupils join cadet forces". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-04-30. A ground-breaking agreement to allow state school pupils to join cadet forces in some of Britain's most elite private schools is to be announced this month. Six of the country's top fee-paying schools – including City of London boys' school and Highgate – have agreed to open up their Combined Cadet Forces to neighbouring state schools.
  13. ^ Public school funding for military cadet forces diverted to state sector,, 14 Feb 2014
  14. ^ Combined Cadet Force (CCF) - Westclif High School for Boys,
  15. ^ Proposed changes to funding CCFs in schools,
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Parliamentary written questions". Hansard. 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  23. ^ "CCF CEP Press Release". Retrieved 2016-03-11.
  24. ^ a b "Cadet Ranks".
  25. ^
  26. ^ "CFC Explained". Air Cadet 101. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Uniform regulations for officers and instructors" (DOC). MOD. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ An example of a CSO school: City of London School Archived 26 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ "Brighton College Community Service page". Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  35. ^ "Brighton College DofE page". Retrieved 2008-06-03.

External links[edit]

Media related to Combined Cadet Force at Wikimedia Commons