The Army Cadet Force is a national voluntary youth organisation. But how is it directed, organised and supported? If we look at the ACF charter, this provides an insight into what the organisation is about:

The ACF is sponsored by the Army and provides challenging military, adventurous and community activities. Its aim is to inspire young people to achieve success in life with a spirit of service to the Queen, their Country and their local community, and to develop in them the qualities of a good citizen.

This is achieved by:

  • Providing progressive cadet training, often of a challenging and exciting nature, to foster confidence, self reliance, initiative, loyalty and a sense of service to other people
  • Encouraging the development of personal powers of practical leadership and the ability to work successfully as a member of a team
  • Stimulating an interest in the Army, its achievements, skills and values
  • Advising and preparing those considering a career in the Services or with the Reserve Forces.

As a national youth organisation the ACF is represented by the Army Cadet Force Association (ACFA).


The ACFA has three main roles, they are as follows:

  1. To direct activities outside military training in which the ACF is involved as a Youth Service. Such as National Sporting events,  Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, National Shooting Competitions and Commonwealth Cadet Forces.
  2. To advise the Ministry of Defence on all matters of policy. This is a very important role behalf of cadets.
  3. To maintain the spirit of the Army Cadet Force throughout the UK - to act very much in the same way as a Regimental Headquarters does.


As far as the “members” of the ACFA are concerned it is, in many respects, similar to a regimental association, keeping them informed of all what is going on and providing insurance schemes for non military activities.

It is a useful source of information for cadets assuming they join and pay their annual subscription.

All Officers and Adult Instructors in the ACF are expected to be members of the ACFA. Anyone can join, by writing to the Membership Secretary, ACFA, Holderness House, 51-61 Clifton Street, London EC2A 4DW.

Army Cadet Magazine


As a member of ACFA you will be sent the official magazine of the Army Cadet Force, the ARMY CADET. This always has interesting articles on cadet activities from home and abroad. Cadets can ask their Officers or Instructors to show them their copy. Every Cadet Detachment should receive a copy of the Army Cadet Magazine sent direct to their Detachment.

At the end of every year ACFA produces an Annual Report setting out the different activities in which they have been involved and a report on the general “state” of the ACF throughout the UK.

The Annual Report also lists the various committees and the members who serve on them, illustrating the close liaison with the Ministry of Defence, who give advice and guidance on the future role and policy for the continued success of the Army Cadet Force.

Cadet Training Centre, Frimley Park


The MOD provides the military organisation, equipment, training facilities and the finance (via Reserve Forces & Cadet Associations) to run and administer the Army Cadet Force.

Perhaps one of the most important facility provided by the MOD is the Cadet Training Centre, Frimley Park, Nr Camberley, Surrey. The majority of Officers and Adult Instructors will have attended courses at Frimley during their cadet careers.

As a senior Cadet NCO you would also have the opportunity to be a student at Frimley Park. The MOD also provides the Annual Camp Locations for all the County Army Cadet Forces and the Combined Cadet Forces.


The ACF itself is organized on a County basis. Apart from the greater London Area, which is divided into four Sectors. In every county the RFCA (Reserve Forces & Cadet Association) has a County Cadet Committee, which is responsible for all cadet business, working through the County Cadet Commandant and Secretary of RFCA.

The Department of Education and Employment in England and Wales, the Scottish Department of Education and Employment and the Northern Ireland Department of Education also have an interest in the ACF.

The ACF is also indebted for help and encouragement to many other adult organizations including the sporting associations, St John’s Ambulance, British Red Cross and the St Andrew’s first aid societies. As well as those organizations which have come forward to assist in the development of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.


The RFCA’s, on behalf of the MOD, look after most of the routine Administration and Logistics of the ACF within their Counties. The RFCA’s have a full time staff at their own County Headquarters. This usually comprises the Secretary who is a retired senior officer from the services, his deputy - also a retired officer, plus a small Administrative Office staff. The responsibilities of the RFCA’ are for the following:

  • regionally to provide advice and support on behalf of the UK’s volunteer reserve forces and cadets
  • work with the chains of command of the 3 services to deliver support to the reserves and cadet against Service Level Agreements
  • establish and maintain links with the community and to deliver employer engagement on behalf of defence
  • deliver the volunteer estate through the maintenance and support of reserve training centres, cadet centres and training areas within which the reserves and cadets of all 3 services can conduct their activities


The regular Army provides cadet training teams to “assist Division/ District/Brigade HQ’s in the Training of the ACF” they are to:

  1. Conduct courses for Officers and Adults Instructors.
  2. Run Courses/Cadres for Senior Cadets.
  3. Assist in the conduct of Adult Initial Training Courses and Senior Cadet Instructor Courses (4 Star).
  4. Assist in the conduct of advanced training for Cadets, Adventure and Initiative training, NCO Cadres, Special to Arm, Infantry type training and similar activities.
  5. To advise the County Cadet Commandant on training matters.
  6. To provide assistance at Annual camps.

Many of the courses are carried out at Annual Camp. When a group of Officers and Adult Instructors undergo a weeks training as a part of their Initial Training Course run by the Cadet Training Teams (CTTs). Many of the teams members are ex-cadets and therefore have a good understanding of how the Army Cadet Force functions.


To assist the RFCA in ‘cadet matters’ there is a special County Cadet Committee. The committee members are usually people who have special interest in and experience of the Cadet Forces in general within the County.

For example, the members of the committee usually comprise of some of the following:

The Secretary of RFCA, the present County Cadet Commandant, ex-Cadet Commandants of the County. Commanding Officers of TA units who have cadets badged to them, the County Cadet Medical Officer, serving ACF Area/ Battalion/commanders, County Padre, representative of the County Youth Service, Police, Education: Headmasters and Headmistresses Associations. Representatives of the Sea Cadets and the Air Training Corps.

Others may be co-opted for special purposes or dealing with specific problems where professional help can be of benefit. Generally those representing: Sport, Swimming, Shooting, WRVS, and many others all of who can help in the support of Cadets in the County.


In carrying out its responsibilities the MOD is assisted in its task by the advice and help of the Army Cadet Force Association. ACFA is the representative body of the ACF membership and the Cadets. Amongst the many ‘services’ it carries out, is the organisation of sports competitions, shooting at Bisley and Pirbright, DofE Award, first aid, bands and the provision of the Army Cadet magazine. They also organize the financing of non military events, visits by overseas cadet forces, visits to other countries and insurance cover for all cadets.


RFCA also employs the full-time staff at County Cadet HQ.  The Cadet Executive Officer (CEO) is the senior member of the staff and is accountable for the efficient and proper running of the administration, within the county, for the Cadet Commandant.  This is a very important job and requires a great deal of experience in controlling and accounting for clothing, equipment, weapons and ammunition. Plus on the financial side, for the pay and allowances, rations, Officers Mess and warrant officers and sergeants mess accounts.  The CEO is assisted by a staff who take on the jobs of County Quarter  Master (QM) and Cadet Administrative Assistants (CAA) who visit detachments carrying out routine checks of equipment and security, delivering stores and uniforms. In most county HQ there is a Clerical Officer who is responsible for the efficient running of the office, dealing with the requests for courses, orders, statistics and general office routine.


The County Cadet Commandant
The Commandant is a volunteer and may be an officer who has had many years experience in the Cadet Force or is a retired senior officer from the Regular Army or TA. They are appointed by the MOD on the recommendation of the County Cadet Committee, normally serving for a three year term. As the Chief Executive officer they are responsible for all matters relating to the ACF in the County. As the leader, they will be involved in the initial selection of potential Officers and Adult Instructors, and their training.

The Commandant will be watching the quality of training that the cadets are receiving. He will not only be looking at APC passes, but also at how the cadets are encouraged to understand the importance of their detachments voluntary work within the community. As well as its role in turning them out as good citizens.

The Cadet Commandant’s time is more directed at building an efficient and enthusiastic team of the right people, who put into practice the policies agreed by the County Cadet Committee. In addition to his/her responsibility for training and discipline, they are, of course, expressly nominated as the Commanding Officer of the ACF within their County.

The Deputy County Commandant
Like the Commandant they are appointed by the MOD on the recommendation of the County Cadet Committee. They will ‘stand in’ on occasions when the Commandant is not available. Very often they take on special responsibilities for the Commandant, such as Discipline of the officers and instructors, planning Special Projects such as fund raising on a large scale, setting up audit boards, organizing `special event’ days at Annual Camp and more.

Hereford & Worcester ACF celebrate new standard with the blessing by Captain Paul Roberts, the Army Cadet Padre.

Hereford & Worcester ACF celebrate new standard with the blessing by Captain Paul Roberts, the Army Cadet Padre.

The Padre
The Padre's role is multi-functional.  They have the obvious responsibility for the religious wellbeing of all cadets, adults and officers of the county/sector regardless of their religious denomination.  If you need a 'listening ear' the Padre will provide it; they are there for cadets at any time - they do not have to go through the 'chain of command' to speak to them.  They often help out when there is a shortage of officers or adults.  Talk to your Padre whenever you get a chance - they know the right people!

The County Adjutant
The role of Adjutant in the ACF county is in many instances multivarious. He or she answers directly to the County Commandant. They are usually experienced Cadet Officers who have the ability to forsee problems and take the necessary action to prevent it happening. Their main occupation is the control and discipline junior officers (when required).

The County Training Officer
This job is normally taken on by a senior officer who has had a great deal of experience in training cadets at all levels. Working in close contact with the Commandant, the Training Officer is responsible for ensuring the Commandants Training Programme is met. Usually they will pay special attention to new detachments, helping new or inexperienced officers and instructors. Often responsible for arranging adult training, Cadet NCO’s Promotion Cadres, and monitoring the APC testing of cadets within the County.  Plus they play a large part in drawing up the Annual Camp plans under the guidance of the Cadet Commandant and work in liaison with the CadetTraining Team (CTT).

ACF - The County Training Officer

The County Sports Officer
Every Detachment should practice some form of sporting activities. The competition between Detachments for the County Championship Cup and all other sporting activities would be the sort of job the County Sports Officer would be responsible for organising. If these competitions are not run then it makes it difficult for a County Team to be picked from the best players.

A group of ten Army cadets from Wakefield-based E Company (The Rifles), part of Yorkshire North and West Army Cadet Force, has been presented with their bronze Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Officer
Appointed by the Cadet Commandant as the County D of E Officer. Their role is to give assistance to areas and detachments who have cadets already enrolled in the scheme or helping those who wish to do so, and the training of Officers and Adult Instructors in how to run the scheme with their own cadets in the Detachment. Remember, that if you are a gold DofE Award holder it is a very valuable asset when you are going forward in your chosen career.

County Public Relations Officer
The County PRO is responsible for the promotion of the ACF in the county and is the main link with all types of media, newspapers, TV and local radio. They make sure that all items of information are correct so as not to give the wrong message to the public. It is therefore important that any ‘hot news’ is sent direct to him/her and not communicated to any other sources. Every Detachment should have the telephone number of their PRO clearly shown on their Detachment Notice Board.

The County RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major)
The RSM works closely with the Adjutant in maintaining the policies of the Cadet Commandant. The job of RSM is always seen as setting the standards that make a good County ACF.  They are the senior Rank amongst the Non Commissioned Officers and are held responsible for the conduct of the members and the running of the Sergeants Mess. The standard of behaviour, dress and discipline set by the RSM, is expected to be followed by all Adult Instructors and Cadets.

Army Cadets from Salamanca Company, Somerset Cadet Bn (The Rifles) ACF, firing the L98A2 Cadet GP Rifle 5.56mm on a 25m Barrack Range

Army Cadets from Salamanca Company, Somerset Cadet Bn (The Rifles) ACF, firing the L98A2 Cadet GP Rifle 5.56mm on a 25m Barrack Range

County Shooting Officer
They will ensure that those 'good shots' have access to coaching and range days. The Shooting Officer also ensures that Companies/Detachments are aware of the various shooting competitions and leads a team of 'coaches' to assist Cadets in the County Shooting Team to shoot in the National Competitions at Bisley and Pirbright.

County Medical Officer
The majority of cadets will most likely only see the Medical Officer whilst at Annual Camp. The MO arranges for their MI Room (Medical Inspection) to be set up in Camp. All personnel at Camp who wish to see the MO will attend the MI Room at the appointed times.The MO is at times supported by members of the Reserve Forces (TA) as part of their Annual Training.  You may have an MO who is a serving officer from a Medics Unit or more often the MO is a General Practitioner (GP) from your own County.


The Army Cadet Leagues are organised in some Counties across the UK. They have nothing at all to do with the control or direction of the ACF in their respective Counties. The best way to explain their role is to call them a Supporters Club for the Cadets of their County similar to a Regimental Association.

Most Leagues are open to membership from any of those who are interested in supporting their Cadets. Some are ex-members of the ACF who continue the friendships formed while in the ACF and many others are also members of the Army Cadet Force Association (ACFA).

Any money they do raise is invested and goes into their funds. The interest the funds earn is then made available to provide Detachments with items that the Ministry of Defence do not. For example sports equipment of all types, helping those Cadets who find it difficult to raise the funds to buy a pair of boots, or help for those who cannot find their Annual Camp fees, etc. They do not fund any requests to the full amount and expect cadets to raise half of the costs of whatever project is on hand.

Cadets Collecting for the Royal British Legion


Many Cadet Detachments are officially affiliated to their local Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL). It goes without saying that the important time of the year for the RBL is during the period leading up to Remembrance weekend. This is when they raise the most money for their funds. This is also the time when they need the most help in collecting it.

There will be occasions when a cadets help would be appreciated. If they are affiliated to the local Branch, this will be a natural request and of great benefit to the cadet and the work of the RBL. ACF Officers and Adult Instructors of Affiliated Detachments are invited to become members of the Royal British Legion Branch and have access to their Club facilities.


ACF Staff Structure