Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch)
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|Royal Air Force
air component of the
British Armed Forces
The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch), often abbreviated to RAFVR(T), is a Volunteer Reserve element of the Royal Air Force specifically appointed in a training role within the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Members of the RAFVR(T) have no call-up liability and often operate part-time with the Air Experience Flights and Volunteer Gliding Squadrons in conjunction with the Air Cadet Organisation - which consists of the Air Training Corps and the RAF contingent of the Combined Cadet Force.
Recruitment and selection
Many RAFVR(T) officers have previous military experience, commissioned, or other ranks service, and many have professional and educational qualifications, but unlike the requirements for joining the regular armed forces, applicants for RAFVR(T) positions are not required to have formal educational or other qualifications. It is also not uncommon to find RAFVR(T) staff hold commissions in the RAuxAF, RAFRO, or other services also. All the Pilots who man the Air Experience Flights (AEF) are former regular service aircrew (RAF, Army or RN), some even at Air rank serving as supernumary Flying Officers RAFVR(T); adding much to the wealth and professional experience of the RAFVR(T)
Unlike the formal OASC process for regular service, selection is based upon relevant experience and the arm of the Air Cadet Organisation in which the candidate initially wants to serve. Those intending to serve with an Air Training Corps Squadron undertake an initial filter interview at an ATC Wing HQ. This interview is usually chaired by the OC Wing who holds the rank of Wing Commander RAFVR(T). Others present at the filter interview may include the Wing Executive Officer who is nowadays a civil servant that may also hold the rank of Squadron Leader RAF VR(T) and one or more Wing Staff Officers in the rank of Squadron Leader/Flight Lieutenant RAFVR(T). The Chair of the interview panel must have attended and passed the RAF's Short Interview Technique Course. Candidates who successfully pass this filter interview are then called forward to the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF Cranwell to undertake a shorter revised version of the OASC boarding process.
The OASC assessment lasts for 2 days and consists of the following assessments.
- Group Discussion: Candidates will be assessed on their participation in a group discussion covering a number of contemporary issues.
- Group Planning Exercise: Candidates will be assessed on their contribution to a classroom based group planning exercise requiring them to solve a theoretical scenario-based problem.
- Hangar Familiarisation: Candidates will be given an unassessed introduction to the OASC hangar where they will be completing a series of physical leadership tasks.
- Leaderless Exercise: Candidates will be assessed on their contribution to a practical exercise as a group in the OASC hangar without a nominated leader.
- Command Situation Exercise: Each candidate will be given the opportunity to lead the other members of their syndicate in tackling a practical exercise in the OASC hangar. Candidates will be assessed as both leaders and team members.
- Individual Planning Exercise: Candidates will be assessed in a classroom based individual planning exercise requiring them to solve a theoretical scenario-based problem as individuals.
- Interview: Candidates will be interviewed individually by a board of senior officers, including a senior member of the ACO. This will determine their motivation, suitability and understanding of the ACO and its parent service.
Candidates who pass the OASC boarding process are appointed as Officer Cadets in the RAFVR(T). Candidates joining a Combined Cadet Force unit are recommended by the relevant headmaster and Section Commander to Headquarters Air Cadets before being interviewed by the Regional TEST Squadron Leader serving in the RAFR. Since October 2007, all candidates that pass their relative selection process are appointed as Officer Cadets until successful completion of the Officers' Initial Course (OIC) at RAF Cranwell.
As an Officer Cadet RAFVR(T), they wear a completely white rank slide with gilt VRT insignia in the centre. This is accompanied by standard officers' headdress (complete with white band whilst at ATF). Following completion of their OIC, a newly appointed Pilot Officer RAFVR(T) will then receive their rank slide. Since RAFVR(T) officers will generally be responsible for running either a CCF(RAF) section or an Air Training Corps squadron/detached flight, successful applicants are required to demonstrate qualities of commitment, motivation, extensive knowledge of the RAF and military/civil aviation, all underpinned by a willingness and aptitude to work with young people in an instructional environment. Many have educational or youth work experience and qualifications in specialist areas of outward bound youth work.
Other members of the RAFVR(T) serve as flying instructors on the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons or as pilots on Air Experience Flights - the latter are in most cases former military pilots who have left the regular service and are commissioned into the RAFVR(T) on appointment to the AEF.
RAFVR(T) members wear the same uniform worn by regular Royal Air Force or active reserve Royal Auxiliary Air Force commissioned Officers, with the exception that gilt "VRT" insignia is worn on the lapels of formal dress uniforms and on top of the rank braid on the epaulettes and tabs of working dress uniforms and combat uniforms. Thus the RAFVR (T) follows the traditional dress regulation of the senior air force formation, the RAuxAF, by the placing of its gilt collar lapel "VRT" badges in the position occupied by the "A" badges that are still worn by RAuxAF Officers when in No.1 dress uniform. RAFVR(T) Officers are required to still wear gilt VRT badges on top of rank braid when wearing No.2 dress uniform (or other working dress) at all times (excepting those in the CCF who are not permitted under Joint Service Regulations (JSP 313) to wear metal titles on combat uniform). However, when there is a FOD (Foreign object debris) risk the entire rank badge should be removed. By contrast, RAuxAF Officers now do not wear their "A" badges on working dress uniform at any time, in response to the expanded use of the active reserves on routine operations and support duties within the regular service.
All RAFVR(T) officers are required to attend and pass the Officers' Initial Course (OIC) held at the Adult Training Facility (ATF), a lodger unit at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, usually within the first 12 months of their appointment. This week-long course covers the basic roles and responsibilities of an RAFVR(T) Officer and very few fail. Those successfully completing the course are awarded their commissioning parchment and are confirmed as a commissioned officer (although under the current system, all VR(T) Officers are commissioned from the day that they pass their board, and the commissioning scroll is dated to that day) and are treated similarly to regular Officers. Another 1-week course at the ATF, the Squadron Commanders' Course, is required for those seeking to command a squadron. RAFVR(T) officers involved in CCF or ATC Units may undertake extra training before becoming appointed as an Officer Commanding of their unit, although this training is not compulsory for officers associated with the CCF. Some also take specialist training for certain activities: physical training (PT) or shooting for example.
They are supported at ATC unit level by fellow RAFVR(T) officers, as well as uniformed ATC Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers and a cadre of Civilian Instructors. Although not in the chain of command, the wings are supported by a Wing Executive Officer of Sqn Ldr Rank in the RAFR. At CCF(RAF) contingents, RAFVR(T) officers are able to call upon the support of the regular RAF Squadron Leader tasked with looking after their area, and also upon the services of the regular RAF 'TEST' sergeants mapped to their specific school. Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) and Air Experience Flight (AEF) officers are supported directly by HQ Air Cadet Staff, and the unit's parent RAF station.
|Commissioned Officer Ranks||Insignia||Notes|
|Officer Cadet (Off Cdt)||Officer Cadet - Until completion of the 7 day Officers Initial Course (OIC)|
|Pilot Officer (Plt Off)||Junior Officer - Usually serves as adjutant on an ATC squadron or junior officer in CCF(RAF) section|
|Flying Officer (Fg Off)||Junior Officer - Usually serves as adjutant on an ATC squadron or junior officer in CCF(RAF) section, most pilots attached to the Air Experience Flights are commissioned into the RAFVRT at Fg OFf rank. May be
commanding officer on some small squadrons/CCF(RAF) sections. Promotion to Fg Off is automatic on completion of two years' service in the RAFVR(T) and successful completion of OIC.
|Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt)||Junior Officer - Usually serves as the Officer Commanding an ATC Squadron or CCF(RAF) Section Commander, however, may be a junior wing staff officer (this was common practice to only have two or three Sqn Ldr's dependent on wing size but changed around 2004 to have all WSO's at Sqn Ldr rank with some paid as Flt Lt's and the senior ones paid as Sqn Ldr's, however the old practice is still in effect in some wings (for example South and East Midlands) who continue to have the bulk of their WSO's at Flt Lt rank) or adjutant on large squadrons. The acting unpaid rank of Flt Lt is granted on completion of 9 years' service in the RAFVR(T). Senior AEF pilots and OC AEF's are usually appointed at Flt Lt rank in the VR(T) however some are commissioned into the RAFR and historically OC AEF would hold Sqn Ldr rank (however this begun to be phased out in 2002 with existing Sqn Ldr's being able to retain their rank but new appointments gaining Flt Lt rank). Officers appointed to command an ATC Squadron are expected to complete the Squadron Commanders' Course (SCC) before or soon after assuming command. Usually automatically promoted from Fg Off when OC at the squadron although some wings (such as South and East Midlands) do not follow this practice and regularly have OIC's as Plt Off/ Fg Off for a number of years before promotion to Flt Lt. Promoted to Flt Lt after 7 years of service as a Fg Off (9 years in the VRT).|
|Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr)||First Senior Officer Rank - Usually serves as Wing Staff Officer (WSO) or Regional Staff Officers (RSO), but may be squadron commander on large squadrons or as the OC of a Volunteer Gliding Squadron, (the youngest Sqn Ldr in the RAF is a VRT officer in command of 644 VGS). In CCF(RAF) this rank is usually held by an RAFVR(T) officer acting as Contingent Commander or 2i/c.|
|Wing Commander (Wg Cdr)||Senior Officer Rank - Often serves as the commanding officer of an ATC wing, Regional Staff Officer (conditional to position), Corps Staff Officer (CSO) posts (e.g. the Corps D of E Officer) or CCF Contingent Commander if occupying a post established in the rank of Major and having 20 years' continuous service in the RAFVR(T).|
|Group Captain (Gp Capt)||Most Senior Rank - The rank of Group Captain has only recently been introduced into the RAFVR(T) for regular use. Most commonly given on an honorary appointment to the Ambassador or to others under special circumstances.|
Although the Air Cadet Organisation has officers with ranks above that of Group Captain, these ranks are held by members of the RAFR or Regular RAF. The RAFVR(T) currently consists only of commissioned officers. All RAFVR(T) Officers hold a maximum substantive rank of Flying Officer, all other RAFVR(T) ranks above that of Flying Officer are acting (either paid or unpaid) ranks.
- Sir Patrick Moore - joined the RAFVR(T) post-World War II reaching the rank of Squadron Leader
- Sir Chris Hoy - Honorary Group Captain RAFVR(T)-Ambassador to the RAF Air Cadets until November 2014.
- Carol Vorderman - Honorary Group Captain RAFVR(T)-Ambassador to the RAF Air Cadets November 2014 to present.
- Air Cadet Organisation
- Air Experience Flight
- Volunteer Gliding Squadrons
- 358 Welling Squadron ATC: http://358atc.btck.co.uk/NoticeBoard/NewOfficer1
- Guardian Obituary 9 December 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/09/sir-patrick-moore