Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
Country United Kingdom
AllegianceHM The Queen
TypeYouth Organisation
RoleLeadership and discipline line education
Size42,720 Cadets[1]
Garrison/HQRegional Command Cadets Branch, Aldershot
Nickname(s)'The Corps' (within school environment) Edit this at Wikidata
Commandant Air Cadets (RAF CCF)
Air Commodore Tony Keeling RAFR
Standard of the CCF
Ensign of the CCF

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a youth organisation in the United Kingdom, sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which operates in schools, and normally includes Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force sections. 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".

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 British military officers have had experience in the CCF.

Before 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 2019 there were 42,720 cadets and 3,370 Adult Volunteers.[1] The MOD provides approximately £28M per year of funding to the CCF.[2]

Although sponsored by the Ministry of Defence, the CCF is not part of the British Army or Army Reserve, and as such cadets are not subject to military 'call up'. Some cadets do, however, go on to enlist in the armed forces later in life, and many of the organisation's leaders have been cadets or have a military background.


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] 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] and the second composed of pupils from Magdalen College School. 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 used to be dominated by the independent sector with 200 contingents being based in independent schools with only around 60 in state schools.[9] Since the Cadet Expansion Programme was launched the number of contingents has reached 500, beating the target set by the government. There are now more contingents in the state sector than in the independent sector. The expansion was funded by £50m from the fines arising from the LIBOR scandal.[10]

It was reported in 2008 that some independent school CCF detachments would be opened to pupils of local state schools[11][9] One case of a fee-charging school allowing state school pupils to join the cadet force was Aldenham School in Watford, Hertfordshire linking its Cadet Force with the nearby state school Queen's to form a joint Cadet force.[12][13]

Investigation into sexual abuse

In 2012 payouts made to victims of sexual abuse across all Cadet Forces, including the CCF, totaled £1,475,844. In 2013 payouts totaled £64,782, and in 2014 payouts totaled £544,213.[14]


CCF Contingents are part of the CCF, but are also part of their own school and as such are semi-autonomous organisations, run by internal school or school-related staff, supported by armed forces personnel. Army sections may wear their own capbadge, this might consist of the school or college logo or crest. However, Army headgear is worn with this capbadge. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force sections wear the appropriate RN/RAF other rank and officer capbadges.

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 Volunteer Cadet Corps. Pupils normally join at the age of 12 or 13 (Year 8), or later at the discretion of the Head, with both sexes able to take part.


Royal Navy Section

Badge of the Royal Navy section.
Badge of the Royal Navy section.

They may be issued with combat uniform if required and some schools have No 1 uniform for senior cadets[citation needed]. Number 3 uniform is normally the parade uniform for the CCF (RN) and consists of a white Shirt, black tie, blue trousers,[15] and blue heavy wool jersey, worn with plain black shoes, a Brassard should be worn on the right arm, displaying qualification badges.[16][17][18] Number 4 uniform 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, blue trousers, blue heavy wool jersey, beret, with CCF badge and black boots.[17]

Royal Marines Section

Royal Marines sections wear the bronzed Royal Marines cap badge of other ranks with a red "tombstone" backing on a blue beret with MTP (Multi-Terrain Pattern) clothing, and either brown or black boots.[19] They may also wear a version of No.1 Ceremonial Uniform with Cadet insignia for special occasions.[20][18]

Army Section

Combined Cadet Force Army Stable Belt
Combined Cadet Force Army Stable Belt

Working uniform The Army Section dress regulations are set out in Army Dress Regulations, Part 8 (Cadets).[21] and Cadets wear the No. 8 Combat Dress - Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP) uniform ('combats') for most occasions.[15]

All cadets wear a rank slide with the word "CADET" in embroidered red capital letters at the top, any rank is then shown underneath in black. Cadets may be given permission to wear a stable belt of CCF, school, or affiliated unit pattern. CFAVs wear rank slides with "CCF" underneath.

Tactical Recognition Flashes are not to be worn by Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) or cadets of the Combined Cadet Force irrespective of any affiliation to a Corps or Regiment.[22] Cadets and CFAVs do wear county and contingent flashes.[22] However, CFAVs can wear two shoulder flashes. One is the CCF logo (in purple) and the other is the School/Contingent flash[citation needed].

Cadets during commemorations in Jersey 2013. Showing the RAF Section No. 1 uniform (left) and Army Section No. 2 uniform (right)
Cadets during commemorations in Jersey 2013. Showing the RAF Section No. 1 uniform (left) and Army Section No. 2 uniform (right)

Ceremonial uniform No. 2 Dress (also known as Future Army Dress (FAD)) may be worn for ceremonial (e.g. Remembrance Days) or other relevant uses (such as drill or duty cadets) and is to be worn in accordance with the dress regulations mentioned above.

Evening Dress Mess Dress is also worn, by CFAVs only and at personal expense only, it is not an issued item. Rank (depending on regimental custom) is sometimes worn, but a "CCF" pin must be worn.

Royal Air Force Section

Brighton College CCF cadets in Army Section uniform left and RAF Section uniform right. Uniform berets have colours and cap badges of the armed forces they are affiliated to.
Brighton College CCF cadets in Army Section uniform left and RAF Section uniform right. Uniform berets have colours and cap badges of the armed forces they are affiliated to.

RAF cadets wear a version of the RAF 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.[16][23][24] They also wear a brassard to distinguish themselves as cadets.[23] Except for the cap badge and brassard badge, this is identical to the uniform of the ATC and regulations for its wear can be found in AP1358C.[23][24][15] Most RAF sections wear combat clothing, formerly the CS95 DPM standard, but many now wear Multi-terrain pattern uniform (MTP).[19] Officers wear the RAF tactical recognition flash, Adult Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers wear the RAFAC Staff formation flash, and cadets wear RAFAC Cadet formation flash.[25]


Parade and church service in Saint Peter Port, featuring ATC and CCF cadets, Guernsey, 16 September 2012
Parade and church service in Saint Peter Port, featuring ATC and CCF cadets, Guernsey, 16 September 2012
Army Cadet Force (ACF) Cadets during the Battle of Jersey commemoration in 2013
Army Cadet Force (ACF) Cadets during the Battle of Jersey commemoration in 2013
Royal Navy Cadets, during a Royal Visit at Victoria College, Jersey
Royal Navy Cadets, during a Royal Visit at Victoria College, Jersey

The MOD Sponsored Cadet Forces Statistics are published annually.[1] Statistics are provided for the Community Cadets (the Sea Cadet Corps 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.[26]

Number of CCF Cadets (nationwide)

The strength of CCF, both Cadets and CFAVs is published every year by the Office for National Statistics, usually in April.[27]

Size of sections[1]
Section Cadets
Army 29,920[28]
Royal Air Force 8,960[28]
RN/RM 6,140[28]
Total 45,020[28]

In November 2019 the Government announced that it had achieved its target of 500 contingents under the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP)[29]

Cadet ranks

See also: Ranks of the cadet forces of the United Kingdom

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 a tradition for cadets to refer to Cadet Warrant Officers and Cadet Company or Regimental Sergeant Majors as "Sir or Ma'am"[citation needed].

Cadets are promoted on their level of experience and their level of commitment to the cadet force. Also cadets are promoted on excellent or merit. Senior cadet's duty is to help the running of parades etc and to help their Contingent Commander or another officer of their contingent.

The Naval Cadet that is in command of the naval section can also be called Coxswain.

Officers Cadet Senior NCOs Cadet Junior NCOs Cadets Recruits

CCF Navy
Under Officer Warrant Officer
Chief Petty
Officer Cadet
Petty Officer
Able 3*
Able 2* Cadet Able 1* Cadet Naval
New Naval

Officers Cadet Senior NCOs Cadet Junior NCOs Cadets Recruits

CCF Royal Marines
(Part of the CCF RN)
No insignia
Under Officer Cadet Warrant Officer
First Class
Cadet Warrant Officer
Second Class
Cadet Colour
Cadet Lance
Cadet Recruit

Officers Cadet Senior NCOs Cadet Junior NCOs Cadets Recruits

CCF Army
No insignia
Under Officer Cadet
Regimental Sergeant Major
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
Company Sergeant Major
Cadet Staff
Cadet Lance
Cadet Recruit

Officers Cadet Senior NCOs Cadet Junior NCOs Cadets Recruits

No equivalent
No equivalent
No insignia No equivalent
Warrant Officer
Cadet Flight
Cadet Lance
CWO Cdt FS Cdt Sgt Cdt Cpl Cdt LCpl Cdt

Army cadets ranks share associated regiment's equivalent rank title (e.g. Corporal in the Royal Artillery becomes Bombardier.)

Cadet Force adult volunteers (CFAV)

Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs), who are the uniformed civilian staff that work in the school contingents and provide training to the cadets. Unlike the other cadet organisations (ATC/SCC/ACF), most adult volunteers are commissioned officers, the exception often being the School Staff Instructor (see below) and the newer position of Sergeant Instructor (SI).

CCF Officers

CCF officers are not members of the armed forces and are usually teachers or other school staff, as such they are not subject to military law, but are subject to CCF Regulations they are subordinate to officers in the Armed Forces whether Regular or Reserve. Until 2017 CCF (Army) and CCF (RAF) officers were in special categories of the reserves of their service whereas CCF (RN) Officers were 'appointed' and did not hold commissions. However, on 1 December 2017, the Cadet Forces Commission was introduced and since then this type of commission has been held by all CCF officers[30]


All CCF adult induction/basic/initial courses cover the basic skills needed for CFAVs who wish to serve in the CCF, such as drill and turnout, leadership and teamwork tasks, weapon training, navigation, etc.

School Staff Instructors (SSI)

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 (without "CCF" titles[citation needed]) as a courtesy and are employed by the school to instruct and assist in the running of the Contingent.[34]

Whilst the majority of the SSIs are (former) SNCOs it is also possible for them to be a Cadet Forces commissioned officer. 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.

Civilian Instructors (CI)

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.[35]

Adult Non-commissioned Officers (NCO)

In 2018 the role of "Sergeant Instructor" (SI) was introduced for CCF (Army) sections, this is the first occasion that adults other than SSIs have been appointed as an NCO rather than a commissioned rank in the CCF. Similarly to the ACF the role of the SI is to support the CCF officers. Whilst not holding a commission. SIs are uniformed, paid for their activities, have to undertake vetting/background checks and the CCF Basic Course at Cadet Training Centre Frimley Park.

Sergeant Instructors (SIs) were introduced into the CCF Army Section to provide an alternative route for CFAVs who did not wish to commission at the time of joining. When the SI route was created in the CCF Army Section there was no promotion route available with an assumption made that the CFAVs would ultimately commission; however, this is now known not to be the case.

On 1 January 2020 the rules were amended to allow SIs to progress to the rank of "Staff Sergeant Instructor" 2 years from completion of their CCF Basic Course, provided that they had also completed one or more additional qualifications. The qualification list is across a range of military and non-military subjects aligning with that of the ACF to encourage cooperation and movement between the 2 branches of the Army's cadets.

RN (CCF) RNR Army (Cadet Forces) RAF (RAFAC)
No equivalent Sergeant Instructor SI
Sergeant RAFAC Sgt RAFAC
Chief Petty Officer
Staff Sergeant Instructor SSI
Flight Sergeant RAFAC FS RAFAC

Care needs to be taken to avoid confusion between Staff Sergeant Instructor and School Staff Instructor.

"School Staff Instructor" (see above section) is an appointment (not a rank) and is usually held by an ex-regular member of the forces, who retain their regular rank and do not wear "CCF" titles.

Adult Strength

The strength of CCF CFAVs is published every year by the Office for National Statistics, usually in April.[27]

Section CFAV
Army 2,170[28]
Royal Air Force 570[28]
RN/RM 600[28]
Total 3,340[28]

Officer ranks

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 in addition to any insignia of affiliated Army regiment or Corps.

CCF (RAF) Officers wear 'RAF Air Cadets' on their rank sides.

Since the introduction of the Cadet Forces Commission, ranks do not indicate membership of the British Armed Forces.

RN ((CCF) RNR) Army (Cadet Forces) RAF (RAFAC)
Commander (CCF) RNR
Lieutenant Colonel
Wing Commander
Lieutenant Commander (CCF) RNR
Squadron Leader
Lieutenant (CCF) RNR
Flight Lieutenant
Sub Lieutenant (CCF) RNR
Flying Officer
Second Lieutenant
Pilot Officer
Adult Under Officer
Acting Pilot Officer
Officer Cadet

Cadet training

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 L144 A1 Cadet Small Bore Target Rifle (CSBTR) and the L81 Cadet Target Rifle.

Royal Navy section

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.

CCF RN Ships
Name Type Class Length (ft)
MV Blue Swan Motor Boat Talisman 49
MV Black Swan Motor Boat Talisman 49
SV Cornish Air Sloop Rustler 36
STC Amaryllis Sloop
TS Dragon Sloop
TS Phoenix Sloop

Royal Marine Section

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

The Army section follows the Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) subjects such as drill and turnout, skill at arms, shooting, map and compass, fieldcraft and first aid.[36]

Royal Air Force section

As CCF (RAF) sections form part of the larger Royal Air Force Air Cadets, they are eligible to undertake the same syllabus and training opportunities as the Air Training Corps:

Further information: Activities of the Air Training Corps

RAF section cadets are given the opportunity to fly in both powered aircraft, most notably the Grob Tutor 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, although CCF cadets, unlike those in the ATC, have to pay to receive this BTEC.

Further training

All sections can undertake leadership courses at Cadet Training Centre, Frimley Park, Nesscliffe[citation needed], or RAF Cranwell[citation needed], 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).

See also

Elements of the Community Cadet Forces

Other MoD sponsored or recognized cadet forces

Related articles


  1. ^ a b c d
  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 Archived 29 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine,
  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.
  6. ^ 'History of Felsted School 1564-1947', Michael Craze
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