Should the ATC adopt the rank of Lance Corporal?

Out of curiosity, why does our adult NCO cadre begin at sergeant and not corporal?

I’m aware at one point we only had WOs, but why introduce a rank structure only beginning at sergeant?

There is talk of introducing Cpl at the same time as the ATC reduce the age limit to 18.

1 Like

Yeah, but why do we currently start from sergeant?

Given that we are staff a lot longer than we are cadets, it gives a larger scope for development over the long period of time.

I’m sure someone on here is a WO and is 29? I may be corrected, I just seem to remember reading that. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, don’t read that as negative. However, potentially that is another 30+ years with no more advancement in the NCO cadre.

1 Like

Yep thats me!


I thought it was but I didn’t want to be wrong and seem silly.

I came to realise quick quickly you have to be one of two people when it come to the situation im in you either need to be a person who is quite happy plodding a long or a person who wants a bigger role (i.e WWO or RWO). There are grumblings of WO only being given to a CFAV carrying out a role benefiting the wing or x amount of experience

1 Like

While it’s veering from the topic, it’s not too dissimilar in the officer cadre. Yes, there’s the possibility of WSO and higher, just as there’s the possibility of WWO/RWO, but there are a great many officers who will actively avoid such roles, staying at Flight Lieutenant for just as long as someone might stay as WO.


The main reason is to do with messing, if you go onto a Station you generally have Cadets in the Cadets Block/Tents, NCO’s and CI’s in the Sergeants Mess and Officers in the Officers Mess. If you start the NCO ranks lower down you suddenly need accomodation in Transit Accomodation for these Staff Cpl’s.


Don’t see point/need in the same way that I don’t see the point/need of acting ranks, if someone is good enough to be a Cpl then make them a Cpl, you can always make the promotion “probationary” for the first 3 months to ensure they don’t slip as soon as they get the stripes.

Deep down how much responsibility do people think a Cpl really has that they need a more junior NCO below them?


We have L/Cpls in the CCF and when we have a full complement of establishment NCOs they don’t generally have any duties which wouldn’t be given to a senior cadet on an ATC unit. Often it’s given as a thank you to cadets for hard work who aren’t quite ready for Cpl but who we want to encourage. I wouldn’t push hard for L/Cpl in the ATC unless CWO was going to change dramatically (i.e being a wing only appointment with far fewer permitted than now) with the drop to 18 age limit.

1 Like

Ah that makes sense, thank you.

Another case of why?

We have a rank system for cadets that works quite nicely and has done for 81 years. I think the only (and only) reason CCF have L/Cpl is because the CCF was historically Army and the Air Cadet, cadet rank structure was to fit in with that. Community Air Cadets didn’t have that history and was a correlation with the RAF, which the early Air Cadets was a preparation for service in.

The only reason that the notion of adult Cpls has come up is control and finger pointing. I feel people are scared that as and when Air Cadets drop the upper age to 18, there will be 18 year old CIs and of course those cadets who think because of 3-4 years dressing up, to not have a uniform as an adult, makes them somehow lesser. Which begs the question what do we do to these youngsters so they within such a short time is they get such an over inflated perception of themselves?

We may try and delude ourselves that an Adult Cpl would be about development, but development requires a much, much larger set up than we have at squadron level and properly defined role and tasks within that role. When you start work you start as “the boy” or “the girl”, doing all the things juniors do and learning the job and getting entrusted to do more things. We don’t have this in any way, shape or form in the Air Cadets. You get a job or rank and some vague terms of reference, but essentially you are dumped in the deep end and left to get on with it.

However since new SNCO system while having its promotion scheme came in, it just meant that those that would have become Warrant Officers became Sergeants and on many, many, many squadrons the notional “Squadron Warrant Officers” became Sergeants. So all it did was deflate the position by two ranks, as you still had someone doing what the “Warrant Officer” did, but as Sergeants. Introduce adult Cpl and you can bet your last penny that there will be squadrons where the senior adult NCO will be a Cpl, doing all the things expected of WOs. Also it will still mean that people become WOs after 15 and not 10 years and potentially be WOs for in the case of say a 20 year old, for 30 years, with little else to do, unless they commissioned.

Sounds fine and dandy but passing cadet exams mean diddly squat now and he PTS is equally pointless. Back in the day there was as you suggest some correlation between classification and experience which could translate to rank, as the exam system was more robust and subject matter had to be learnt and applied, but not anymore. As the exams were set as an annual event, experience to take forward as an NCO was accrued on the job. The latter we try and kid ourselves, and the cadets, today is bolstered by courses.

Part of the purpose of acting rank is one of scaling.
If you’ve already appointed your full, scaled compliment of NCOs but you require someone to step up (maybe to fill a position of someone on long term leave) they might be given the acting rank. They may then step back down again at the end of the term. Or, if eligible, they might be given substantive rank taking over that, or another position.

That really doesn’t apply to our organization. Whilst we have a scale for cadet NCOs I should imagine that few of us let it get in the way.
Scaled for 4 Cpls but have 5 good candidates and enough cadets for 5 Cpls? I think many of us would just promote 5 and damn the book.

If a Cpl goes on long term leave for a few months (exams or whatever) would we promote an Acting Corporal to fill their place, with the intention of returning them to cadet when Bloggs comes back?
I wouldn’t. We’d just promote another Cpl and have one extra when Bloggs returns.

We don’t have the rigid structure of “posts” that the RAF has so the need for an acting rank is diminished.

The only other situation could be that promotions are to acting rank until achieving certain criteria - such as a completion of an NCO course. There could be some use for that, and indeed I know Wings who have tried to implement such a policy. However I am firmly against it on the grounds that the regulations are dead clear - the Sqn OC promotes up to the rank of Cdt FS. Wings cannot insist that it’s only an “acting rank” until completion of a course because the Air Commodore says otherwise.


I don’t see the need for acting ranks, we just get cadets or junior NCOs to do things when we don’t have NCOs around on odd nights.
The most common incidence I’ve seen is for camps.
I’ve been the camp WO and CC when this has happened. If nothing else it’s not fair on the cadet to be promoted for camp.
On one of my CC stints a girl had been promoted to Sgt just for camp, but on the lists she was down as a Cpl, as such when she got to camp she expected to be i/c a flight, but wasn’t and the crap it created, she wouldn’t do anything the flight i/c said and we had all sorts of tears and tantrums. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the girl’s OC was on camp. When all the tears had stopped we found out what had happened, the OC and I (we’d known each other for years) had a one way chat, he got the message what I thought of his decision and I said it he had to sort out and explain and decide whether she kept the rank for camp.

Interesting post/thread, as an ACF Officer I see the value in LCpl, in relation to fieldcraft, tactics having a recognised 2ic of a section, leader of a fire team is good, but equally we just use any 2 cadet NCOs…what I do find very interesting is the chat of Acting Rank…in the ACF acting rank is never used, a cadet is promoted substantively every rank, the ACF manual actually specifically forbids the use of acting rank across the whole organisation cadet & CFAV, and there is no limit on NCOs within a unit, I could have 30 cpls in my detachment as long as all are qualified via the syllabus