Preparation for CO - Training Officer vs Adjutant

One of things that I am told a lot is that being the squadron adjutant is closest role to being OC of a squadron. However having done both the training officer and the adjutant roles I cannot get my head around this.

You certainly need good experience of both however I fail to see with modern communication and the invention of bader how the adjutant can still be claimed as that essential preparation as it is closest to preparing an individual for command.

As Training officer I :-

[li]Had to manage & lead a team of 12 instructors, both uniformed, CIs and cadets[/li]
[li]Had to make a long term strategy for the coordination of the training (approx 5 years) [/li]
[li]Devise & maintain a system for recording cadet training states including qualifications[/li]
[li]Use Bader to coordinate off-squadron training activities, including TG forms, risk assessments and finance[/li]
[li]Coordinate assessments of the cadets in terms of classification exams and specialist subjects such as YFA & weapons[/li]
[li]Have a good understanding of the training areas & help coordinate the delivery of the training to the cadets[/li]
[li]Plan, communicate and execute the nightly training program, ensuring it is fun but achieves the strategic aims [/li]
[li]ensure all training activities are appropriately staffed with logistics put in place[/li]
[li]Allocate both cadets & staff to training courses, bearing in mind the squadrons short term and long term needs [/li]
[li]develop the staff & Cdt NCOs so they could improve the level of training to the cadets [/li]
[li]Be aware & keep staff aware of all currently policies regarding training and any updates that have occured[/li]
[li]run & compile the relevant stats for annual reports and cross reference nightly attendance stats with program to monitor impact[/li]
[li]Plan & coordinate sqn team for the wing training competition[/li]
[li]Plan & coordinate all other training competitions[/li]

However as Adjutant I -
[li]Coordinate a ‘team’ of one CI who helps with the finance & the stores NCO (who kinda helps out with admin)[/li]
[li]Do no long term planning (no longer than 2 months)[/li]
[li]arrange that paperwork for camps & course is forwarded before due date[/li]
[li]try & keep the non-completed but passed bader activities reduced[/li]
[li]forward emails to staff as required[/li]
[li]coordinate sqn recruitment & media[/li]
[li]make sure the post is sent to wing on Thursdays[/li]

Now it may be that my squadron has a funny set up. However I cannot see how managing a team of one or two people, with no long term planning requirements helps prepare someone for leading a sqn of 30 cadets & 6 staff (or larger). Yes - as a CO you do need to know how the background paperwork works but with so much of the admin previously being done by the adjutant now being done by the training officer, why is the adjutant still given the higher ‘kudos’ regarding the role for command? Does the prep for command bit only kick in if the Adj is also the Sqn ExO or is it all just a historical hang over from a time before emails & instant communications?

I don’t yet have the privilege of being a sqn commander yet so I appreciate that there may well be a big part of the puzzle that I am missing. However comparing the two roles I do feel that having the understanding of the training side (which at the end of the day is the business end and our ‘product’ for our ‘customers’) is more important than having an in depth understanding of being the adjutant.

Answers on a postcard please :slight_smile:

Tbh, I don’t think that any particular role is a complete pre-requisite - however having done as many of the other sqn roles as possible is always going to be a good thing.

MattB is right that you need to try and get exposure to as many aspects of the squadron as possible as prep for taking a command.

While getting a feel for admin and training is a good thing, I feel that having hands on experience of supply matters and most importantly welfare and discip are vital. I was fortunate that having been a WO first, I got some experience of this, but many younger new Sqn Cdrs aren’t prepared for dealing with some of the discip and welfare issues that can come through their door. Also they aren’t prepared for the fact that their well-planned evening at the squadron gets turned on its head, by these.

When it comes to welfare issues these affect adults on the sqn (including CWC) probably more so than cadets and as the man/woman in The Chair you will become privvy to many things and expected to deal with them. You are expected to treat many of these matters confidentially and telling other staff wouldn’t go down well, unless you get permission from whoever tells you. I have been told many things over the years and many stayed with me. If you aren’t already, ask if you can sit in on things when the OC is dealing with things.

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On my sqn, we don’t really have an adj. We have one in name, but he is far too busy to do all the stuff above, and we’ve only got one because wing forced us too.

In reality, I do all the adj stuff above, as well as being OC.

Some of what you’ve written could equally apply to both “posts”, but as above get all the experience you can in everything first.

If you have a Squadron staff strength that allows you to divvy up the various tasks so precisely, then I would guess you are in the minority.

Most of us tend to just do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, albeit with certain leanings. On my Sqn the Adj deals with the exam results and updating Wing despite it being a Trg job just as one example. we basically have four involved staff and a couple of extras and just get cracking. We do have a monthly Trg meeting so we all know what is happening over the next 1, 2 and 3 months and also an ‘on the wall’ calendar to look further ahead.

As for what prepares you best for CO, then I would agree that most of the issues that cause grief are staff and cadet welfare and discip related and you dont really get that much prep for them as they are all different.

Give everything a go and keep smiling and you will be well on your way though.

I’d suggest unless you are going from your first day in uniform to Sqn CO in less then 12 months, it would be perfectly possible to do both in succession. :slight_smile: Rotate the staff (if you have enough to rotate). Keep 'em on their toes. :slight_smile:

Firstly thank you to all the response so far helping to my understanding of the role and I agree that you need to have an understanding of all the roles of on squadron first as otherwise how can you lead, give support and provide oversight to you staff if you don’t have an understanding of their role.

However, what is becoming clear this that the main requirement for preparation as a CO is dealing with the discipline and welfare issues which is only something that comes from experience.

It appears that it is when you are in the position of Sqn ExO that you gain the experience of dealing with these things. As such the adj role itself is not the the role that prepares an individual for command. However it is only when the Sqn ExO is also the Adj that they get the opportunity to deal with these issues as whilst they are training officer they are too involved with the training to necessarily deal with an issue when it arises. However I imagine that this would require a good CO or a good & experienced WO to support the Sqn ExO otherwise they become purely an admin officer and do not develop.

It’s interesting the comment from pEp regarding being forced to have an adjutant and goes back to my original post of whether the adjutant role on squadron has become a skeuomorph and only considered an exec role because of the historical precedent.

On Sqn, the tasks aren’t officially divvied up that way as I was mainly comparing what I did in my four years as training officer and what I do now 15 months into being adjutant. In a way I envy your smaller team. I imagine it is a bit more close knit with everyone willing to pitch in and support each other more rather than the silo mentality that resulted in the above taskings as people were more concerned that it ‘wasnt their job’.

I think I need to print this out in large type and put it somewhere on the wall - I think it is all too easy to forget this within the ACO, and I certainly have recently. Even if nothing else, it is is something we should try to remember to keeps us going :slight_smile:

We have a squadron which has an OC, an Adj, a Trg Off.

I’m the Adj as I’m most able to deal with the various bits of routine paperwork that come into a squadron, but I’m a WO and I never intend to become a squadron commander so in that respect it isn’t really a stepping stone.

I see a large part of the Adj’s job as taking as much of the paperwork away from the OC as possible, therefore allowing them to manage and run the squadron and the staff/cadet teams.

All 3 of us get closely involved with developing the training programme (with input from the other staff and senior cadets) but the TO should be the one keeping a day-to-day eye on things and aiming to ensure the planned programme runs as expected. I make it look pretty and publish it.

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