Combined Cadet Force

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Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
Founded 1948
Country United Kingdom
Type Youth Organisation
Size 42,950 Cadets[1]
2,810 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers[1]
Patron Queen Elizabeth II
Website Combined Cadet Force

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a Ministry of Defence 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 1 April 2014 there were 42,950 Cadets and 2,810 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers.[1] MOD provides approximately £28M per year of funding to the CCF.[2]


The CCF was created in 1948[3] 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.[4] The first school cadet corps was established at Rossall School in February 1860,[5] 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.[6] Other corps were very quickly formed in 1860 at five further schools: Eton, Harrow, Hurstpierpoint, Rugby and Tonbridge.[citation needed] 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.[7] In 1908, the units were re-titled the Officer Training Corps (OTC).[8] 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

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.[9] It was reported in 2008 that some private school CCF detachments would be opened to pupils of local state schools[10] however there was no resultant change.[11]

In February 2014 it was announced that public schools will lose millions of pounds of funding and support for cadet forces under plans to divert the money into the state sector. Under the plans, 100 state schools will set up cadet units by the end of 2015. A further 250 are expected to follow suit.[12] 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.[13]


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.[14]

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].


File:Commémoration de l'Appel du 18 Juin 1940 Saint Hélier Jersey 18 juin 2013 5.jpg
Cadets during commemorations in Jersey 2013. Showing the RAF Section uniform (left) and Army Section uniform (right)

Royal Navy Section

The Royal Navy Section wear a distinct CCF Cap Badge. The two regulation uniforms for RN cadets are No. 4 working dress and No. 3 parade dress. These are differentiated from regular RN uniform by the wearing of brassards (one on the right arm with any qualifications & the Contingent title, one on the left with any rank the cadet may have) and the 'CCF RN' rank slide. They may be issued with combat uniform if required and some schools have No 1 uniform for senior cadets.

Royal Marines Section

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

The Army Section wears the cap badge of their associated regiment or corps, or their school cap badge, and some units now wear an olive green beret, as apposed to the previously worn black beret. Now the CCF is being issued with PCS CU MTP uniform, however there are some units still wearing the Combat Soldier 95 Pattern (CS95) uniform and a small proportion who still have 'lightweight' OG (olive green) uniform or older pattern combat uniform. Ranks are shown with qualifications on a blanking plate worn on the right arm, or with combats on a rank slide marked 'CCF'. WIth MTP uniform Cadets are to wear their qualification badges on the blanking plate on their uniform on the right arm (this replaces the brassard). New rank slides for MTP uniform for CCF Army section and ACF cadets have been issued. They are plain olive green with the word 'CADET' in embroidered red capital letters at the top. They no longer have 'CCF' on them. All cadets will have these regardless of whether they hold any particular cadet rank or not. Any rank is shown underneath in black.

Royal Air Force Section

RAF cadets wear the RAF cap badge with No.2 dress, either with dark blue shirt (2c) or 'Wedgewood' (2, 2a, 2b). They are distinguished from regular personnel by their brassards. Most RAF sections issue cadets with combat clothing, most still wearing the old CS95 whereas some are being issued with PCS CU MTP uniform.


File:Battle of Jersey commemoration 2013 07.jpg
Army Cadets during the Battle of Jersey commemoration in 2013
File:Royal Visit 2012 0007.jpg
Royal Navy Cadets, during a Royal Visit at Victoria College, Jersey
Section Cadets
Army 28,880[1]
Royal Air Force 8,960[1]
RN/RM 5,370[1]
Total 42,950[1]

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.[15]

Section No. of sections No. in state schools
Army 259 60
Royal Air Force 199 41
Royal Navy 110 12
Royal Marines 18 1

Cadet ranks

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 Coxswain (Royal Navy Section), Cadet Regimental or Company Sergeant Major, (Army and RM Sections) and Cadet Warrant Officer (RAF Section). 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.

Army and Royal Marines RAF RN
Cadet Under Officer Cadet Under Officer Cadet Under Officer
Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major[16] Cadet Warrant Officer Cadet Coxswain
Cadet Company Sergeant Major[17]
Cadet Staff/Colour Sergeant Cadet Flight Sergeant
Cadet Sergeant Cadet Sergeant Cadet Petty Officer
Cadet Corporal Cadet Corporal Cadet Leading Rate
Cadet Lance Corporal Cadet Lance Corporal Cadet Able Rate
Cadet Cadet Cadet

Cadet NCOs wear exactly the same rank slides as those in the regular armed forces, and refereed to by their rank by fellow cadets.

The CCF is separate from the Community Cadet Forces; the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps. Pupils normally join at the age of 13 or 14 (Year 8 or S2), with both sexes able to take part.

Cadet Force adult volunteers

Unlike in 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. They hold acting officer ranks up to and including lieutenant colonel (the highest substantive rank is that of lieutenant) or its equivalent in the other services.

CCF(Army) and CCF(RAF) Officers are in special categories of the reserves of their service. CCF(RN) Officers are 'appointed' and do not hold commissions, albeit their ranks are the same as for RN (and RNR) officers with the suffix RNR(CCF), their rank braid is 'wavy', the same form as used in the past by the RNVR. CCF(Army) officers hold commissions in TA Group 'B' (the same group as UOTC Officer Cadets), and wear a CCF marking on their rank slides. Unlike officers in the Army Cadet Force CCF(Army) officers do not attend the Army Officer Selection Board and are commissioned based on recommendation from the Headmaster of the employing school. CCF(RAF) officers' commissions are Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) (RAF VR(T)), and they wear a VRT pin on their rank braid to signify this.

In the main supporting role to the officers is the school staff instructor (SSI), who is usually an ex-forces SNCO or Warrant Officer. Although they are civilians (unless commissioned) they retain their rank as a courtesy and are employed by the school to instruct and assist in the running of the Contingent.[18] Whilst the majority of the SSIs are SNCOs it is also possible for them to be a commissioned officer. There is usually one SSI per Contingent and they are supported by Army Non-Commissioned Officers from Cadet Training Teams (CTT). CCF(Army) and CCF(RAF) Officers are in special categories of the reserves of their service. CCF(RN) Officers are 'appointed' and do not hold commissions, albeit their ranks are the same as for RN (and RNR) officers with the suffix RNR(CCF), their rank braid is 'wavy', the same form as used in the past by the RNVR. CCF(Army) officers hold commissions in TA Group 'B' (the same group as UOTC Officer Cadets), and wear a CCF marking on their rank slides. Unlike officers in the Army Cadet Force CCF(Army) officers do not attend the Army Officer Selection Board and are commissioned following a successful interview with the Brigade Commander. CCF(RAF) officers' commissions are Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) (RAF VR(T)), and they wear a VRT pin on their rank braid to signify this.

Some contingents may have one or more civilian instructors. These are adult volunteers who normally instruct in a specialised role (first aid, signals etc.) when the establishment level of officers does not include persons with sufficient knowledge 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]

There are plans to introduce an NCO cadre into CCF army sections and these changes are expected to take effect in April 2016. In the future there are plans to require attendance at the Army Officer Selection Board for those in the Army Section who wish to be commissioned. Alternatively plans are also being looked at to appoint Army Officers in a similar manner to the CCF RN Officers rather than commissioning them.[19]

Section CFAV
Army 1,700[1]
Royal Air Force 650[1]
RN/RM 460[1]
Total 2,810[1]

Officer ranks

Acting Lieutenant Colonel Wing Commander Commander
Acting Major Squadron Leader Lieutenant Commander
Acting Captain Flight Lieutenant Lieutenant
Lieutenant Flying Officer Sub Lieutenant
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. 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) and, as most MOD accommodation cannot cope with this, leading to a reduction in the number of courses 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, is the equivalent of a BTEC award.

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

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.[20][21]

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

Elements of the Community Cadet Forces

Other MoD sponsored cadet forces

Related articles


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 MoD - reserves and cadet strengths, table 8b page 18. April 2014.
  2. Letter Assistant Head Youth and Cadets, Reserves Forces and Cadets, D/DRFC/4/1/5, 8 August 2014
  3. The History of the Combined Cadet Force,
  4. 'History of Felsted School (1564–1947)' by Michael Craze
  5. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 'History of Felsted School 1564-1947', Michael Craze
  7. Giles Hudson, "Shots of Shots: Photographs of the Oxford Volunteer Rifle Corps", Matters Photographical (1 Dec 2012)
  8. Air Cadets - History,
  9. Henry, Julie (8 January 2012). "Military cadet forces in every school, says schools commissioner". The Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Garner, Richard (20 September 2008). "Private schools will let state pupils join cadet forces". The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Henry, Julie (8 January 2012). "Military cadet forces in every school, says schools commissioner". The Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Public school funding for military cadet forces diverted to state sector,, 14 Feb 2014
  13. Combined Cadet Force (CCF) - Westclif High School for Boys,
  14. Proposed changes to funding CCFs in schools,
  15. "Parliamentary written questions". Hansard. 29 October 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Cadet Ranks".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Cadet Ranks".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Uniform regulations for officers and instructors" (DOC). MOD. Retrieved 11 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. CCFA EXCO Meeting 6 October - minutes
  20. An example of a CSO school: City of London School
  21. "Brighton College Community Service page". Retrieved 3 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Brighton College DofE page". Retrieved 3 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links