Issues regarding NCO rank structure

To start off with, our squadron is basically collapsing upon itself.

Back in the pre-pandemic years our NCO structure was clear and well working for a squadron structured up of around 35 cadets average. Composed of around 4-5 corporals, 3 sergeants, 2 FS and one CWO. That changed after the pandemic.

Many ncos’ left after the pandemic back in 2021 either due to aging out or being too busy with work, what already has brought up some turbulence within the squadron, but nevertheless we still managed. As for the new intakes, it has become almost a nighmare for us NCOs. We don’t blame it on the cadets themselves or on anyone else but the fact remains that nearly all the older sergeants and flight sergeants left, leaving only a handful of corporals and 2 sergeants to manage 2 entire intakes consisting of around 30 cadets. We were having trouble with them as we got some disrupting cadets that don’t even want to be here so they mess about, then turning in the other cadets and causing a knock-on effect. No one of the older ncos was left to deal with that and we spoken to our oc about it but we came up with nothing. But thats only half the problem as barely any cadets fit for any promotions, and we are lacking ncos.

The worst thing is our last 2 flight sergeants left us, leaving only 2 sergeants as the highest rank. The obvious thing was to promote them to FS but after one of them leaved, leaving only one sergeant to look after everything. Our oc told us that there need to be 2 flight sergeants in order for the structure to function and so that they can be flight commanders. We have only around 3 corporals coming down and 3 other who never come down anymore. All of the corporals deserve a promotion to sergeant but we cant promote anyone until we have a flight sergeant.The lonely sergeant cant move up alone according to some guidelines.

We have only 2 cadets fitting anywhere close to being promoted to jnco the other 30 are lacking any experience. At this point our entire rank structure is at jeopardy and there is a confusion. Nothing happens no one moves up just like a traffic jam. If the car in front wont move you cant also move either. Same with ranks.

Grateful for any suggestions or discussions, thanks in advance


Not true.

While your OC may well want a balance in having 2 senior NCOs and one looking after each intake, there’s no rule saying this has to be the case.

Your situation isn’t unique, it’s something a number of squadrons have gone through and are still dealing with. What’s the staff situation? Who do you have on hand to manage the structure beyond the OC?

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My recommendation would be do not openly disrespect your OC and staff on an internet forum, and maybe speak to them about your concerns and what your plan is to support them to get back to where they want to be.



I am merely illustrating our situation to give a better overview of my point, I worded it in an incorrect manner. I have very high respect for my oc and I always support him the best I can, but thank you for advice.

Same with our sqn, minus the trouble making cadets. Sorry youre going through the same thing. I suggest you raise the issue with your staff. Constructively and with a solution in mind.
Potentially promote from the top first to free up the ranks at the bottom

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First thing I’d say is that in regard to the need and want of actual NCOs and promotions related to that, as a Cadet NCO it’s out of your hands. Depending on your Staff, your opinion as a current NCO towards those striving towards it (or towards promotion within it) can, and honestly should, be taken into account.

My advice at the moment would be to focus on what you have and how you can use that most effectively to manage and develop the Cadets. If I’m reading your post right, you currently have 1 Sgt, 3 Active Cpls, and 3 Inactive Cpls. While not necessarily matching the ideal structure for the amount of Cdts on the Sqn, it does give you the beginnings of a pyramid structure for Cdt NCOs.

With no further Senior NCOs, the Sgt here needs to focus on the management of the Cpls to maintain the discipline with the Cadets. New Intakes are always a little difficult as they haven’t yet identified what they can and can’t get away with. Ensure you draw those lines definitively and when that line is crossed, they are identified and corrected. Don’t forget that not all Cdts crossing the line will be doing it maliciously and it will work more effectively to point out the incorrect behaviour and the reason behind why it is incorrect or inappropriate; then point out the correct way. As the ‘ground troops’ the Cpls should be in and around the Cdts and catching any breaches as soon as they can. Don’t fall into the trap of he said/she said/they said. If you catch it in the act, it will be easier to deal with.

Use the chain of command. When Cpls are reprimanding and catching incorrect behaviour, the discipline should come from them. If there are repeated breaches, or the breach is severe enough, those Cpls should bump it up to the Sgt. As the older and more experienced NCO, the Sgt should be able to better handle the situation. From there, if the problem persists or, again, is severe, the Sgt should push it up to the Staff. Which staff member depends entirely on what you have, but start at the lowest rank and move your way up.

All of this needs to be done within the instructions of your Staff and OC. Every Squadron runs a little differently and uniquely so take that into account.


You talk about promotions as if it is some complex game of chess. The reality is that those that shine and pull their weight will be noticed and will be promoted - My advice, make sure you’re the one standing out.

My advice would be to concentrate on what you do, and can do.

The cadet NCO structure is a) out of your hands, b) your OC’s problem, and C) something that’s entirely within their gift to change.

Your OC can promote who they like to whatever rank they like - bar CWO. There are no solid rules about how many of each rank you need, nor in what sequence you promote, nor that you have to have FS in order to have Sgt’s. If your OC simply wants Cpl’s, with each given specific responsibilities, so e of which might give them authority over other Cpl’s, that’s absolutely fine.

It’s not your problem. If your OC isn’t promoting people they presumably have good reason not to - and even if not, exactly what can you do about it?

Be the best you can be. If you decide that you’re fundamentally unhappy with how your evenings go, either find another Sqn, resign your rank and just enjoy being a Cadet with the NCO stuff being someone else’s problem, or find something else to do.

Don’t be afraid of going ‘semi-detached’. Do the fun stuff, and don’t get involved in all the rubbish…


Lots of people say it’s out of my hands, what is not entirely true with my case. Our oc gets us involved in the promotions and other related decisions, and we have a word who should be promoted etc. We are working as a team all looking for ideas its not like we are detached from decisions, atleast in our case.

Not knowing anything about the squadron etc, I would say that there has to be good reason to promote to FS. Just being the senior cadet on a squadron is not a good enough reason. That NCO has to stack up well against other FS within the wing, otherwise it ends up as a case of “which squadron is that rubbish FS from” and it gives the sqn a bad rep. So although they may be senior on the squadron, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be promoted.

As said, you work hard and show what you are capable of and you could end up the next FS.