CI, NCO or Commission?

Afternoon All,

Little background first, Im 8 month’s in as a CI on Sqn with the responsibility of shooting.

Had a sit down with the OC last night and he asked if i had thought about the uniform route either NCO or Officer.

He mentioned that I could be in uniform very quickly down the NCO route, then at a later date go commission. If I wanted the officer route this will need time to prep for the filtering interviews at wing then at region.

My question is reading some of the guidelines this morning to be NCO you must have 12 month service and have attended a blues camp, is this still the case ?

Is there any major advantage for either route ?

The distinction is narrower now.

There are few roles that NCOs can’t do (with more and more running a Squadron or taking on SME roles).

It used to be the case that NCOs deliver and officers plan and administer but the reality is only the biggest staff teams have the luxury to work that way.

Now that the initial staff course is combined and there is no requirement to redo it on commissioning, there is a lot to be said for going NCO first. Then do a couple of years as a Sgt, get the qualifications you want and then apply for a commission.

Also a chance to gain some experience without being rushed into commanding a Squadron.


Agree with this. I was an NCO first and then went commission and there is less difference now than ever in the roles.

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It’s certainly the route I’d have gone off we had NCOs in the CCF when I went into uniform

This is a little warning signal as there is also very little difference between what a CI can do & what an NCO can do.

If you are likly/might want to commission in the next 5 years then go direct from CI. Take your time up to build up your knowledge & skill without the extra responsibility of uniform & rank to worry about.

That’s a really good role to find your feet as a CI. Shooting would tends to be quite egalitarian so you can really get you head around things

I wouldn’t rush into uniform - have fun as a CI first. I would also suggest perhaps do the officer prep that your CO is suggesting as it would make you a more effective NCO if that is your choice in the end.

I always advise my cadets that if you want to be an officer eventually then don’t waste time as an NCO - life is likely to take over & you get stuck as you don’t have the time to do the extra bit of work to progress.

But do what works for you & if you want to enjoy being a CI that also fine :slight_smile:

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Bear in mind that every day/month/year out of uniform is time that isn’t counting towards the Cadet Forces Medal, or any other medallic recognition that might otherwise be awarded to those in uniform (with, say, five years of service).

Edit: A day out of uniform is, quite literally, a day wasted.

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If I was starting again now I would stay a CI


Or it’s an extra day dealing with bureaucratic nonsensical rules which get in the way of doing what I actually volunteered to do.

I like to think I’m neither a muttley or a peacock. I’m over due my cadet forces medal by about 4 years - mainly cause I’m not really bothered about it. If you think you will be doing cadets still in a couple of decades time then the small number of day won’t matter.

If you won’t get to that date it won’t matter. The importance is that you can volunteer in the most effective way that suits you & that you are happy doing so.

Too many in the Air Training Corps are obsessed with rank medals & status & not about actually delivering things.


I still have my old CI polo top. I like wearing it every now and then mainly to annoy the peacocks & NCOs :grin:

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I found one of the CI arm bands the other day - but it is so cringe, I couldn’t wear it - even for a laugh!


If you’re in it for a medal, are you in it for the correct reasons?

I was just thinking earlier that if/when I come back to RAFAC, I won’t be going into uniform either.

There’s too many additional expectations (whether implicit or explicit) for too little return.


I’m an SI, so I’m not currently entitled to the CFM anyway. However, I do think it’s important that volunteering is recognised and equally important that people don’t miss out on recognition through a lack of knowledge that the type of volunteering they have been advised to undertake receives no recognition.

I liken the situation to some of my junior enlisted auxiliary aviators who underestimate the impact of missing one or two early bounties. Yes, the bounty is only a few hundred pounds for those initial years and they can live without it: but ten years down the line when the rest of their cohort are getting VRSMs they often wish they had been better informed of the implications.

Edit: I know of at least one CI who’d currently have half a dozen medals on his chest, if he’d gone into uniform at the right time.


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Is that the new gold space badge?

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But the big differences are, Aviators whether regular and reserve, in effect sign their lives over to HM the King to defend the country up to and including dying on operations, CFAVs no such commitment.

Rightly or wrongly, CFAVs get medallic recognition anyway: but only if they go into uniform (including over-18 cadet service).

Thanks for the feedback, is there the Blue camp requirement for NCO ?

I thought the matrix had been changed to be a bit more flexible with the type/duration of camps - whether it had anything to do with the limited availability of camps, and the fact that no one wants to do them because they are chronically understaffed and everyone gets worked like a dog, is a slightly different question…

My advice?

Stay as a CI for another 18 months at least - if you aren’t sure what rank structure would suit you best, you’ve not been around long enough to know…

Once you’ve commissioned there’s no going back to the ranks so, if you aren’t sure, my advice would be to go SNCO. You can commission at any time later and will receive recognition for your service while you are making your mind up.