Strategic Footprint


They are far too worried that some OC and a builder somewhere would fiddle them out of £50 so instead prefer to spend double what it should cost on all of their jobs with cowboy approved contractors that no one in their right mind would use twice.


This I like!


Given developments over recent years I genuinely through this chap was in charge of the “Strategic Footprint”…




That’s ‘get me a Twitter account and a couple of honourary Group Captains’ shurely?


Let’s face it, the ATC is not the same organisation it was when the majority of squadrons were set up.

People have been moaning for years about the mis-management of RFCA funds, will their budgets be looked at? Probably.
Will we get a better service? Probably not.
Can we change it? No.

So this leaves us in a situation where RFCA and HQAC have a limited fund, to look after a large estate. How would I approach this in my day job? I’d start by reviewing what I have available to me and where my money is currently going.

The current state is we have some big squadrons in small buildings, we have some small squadrons in big buildings, we have some squadrons in the middle of no-where, and we have some squadrons within spitting distance of another one just down the road.
Some buildings are new, some are old and physically falling apart, some are rented rooms in someone elses building. All of these have a finite life and require ongoing maintenance.

In my day job, I would look at these and try to make a judgement call on what is doing a good job for me, and what is not. The small squadron, in the middle of no-where, with a falling down building and only 11 cadets is worth saving! They need money and support, but they are providing a worthwhile service to their community, yes they should be supported to grow, and yes RFCA should fund their refurbishment.

The squadron with 11 cadets, and a falling down building, who is 2 miles form another squadron, with a similar situation, is in my mind, a no-brainer for closure or merger. Whilst passions and emotions will be running high, face facts tat the better return on investment is to close one, refurb the other and merge the two units with their staff and cadets to create a better experience for all.

Whilst I appreciate that this is a simplistic approach to things, and doesn’t take into account all eventualities and situations, it is an illustration of this type of “Review” activity.

Some situations won’t be as cut and dry as this, and will need further consideration and consultations, but it’s not a mandate to close perfectly viable squadrons.
If anyone is actually closing what is seen to be a “viable” squadron, then there must be some other issue there (Land lease, tennancy, building beyond repair, staffing, etc…)

We have to look at this whole process with a level head and an open mind, otherwise we will just be adding to the problem, not helping solve it.


The RAFAC does not have a strategic footprint. All of the units that exist now are there as an accident of history. They are the ones that have survived since the end of WW2.

In my wing since I was a cadet 5 units have closed in my wing, 4 because of lack of staff or cadets and one because the RAF station it was on became a Army camp. The units that have survived are either in the ones in the largest towns or cities or in the past have kept going because they have had good staff and have had good numbers or rescued by parachuting staff in from another unit having the big relaunch.

As a result the units are not all in the largest population centres but where they have survived. There are a few town of over 10,000 people without a Sqn, a few small villages of less than 2500 inhabitants with units and quite a few town of between 5,000 and 10,000 without squadrons. E.G. A town of 14,000 people without a sqn and 20 miles away a village of less than 2,000 inhabitants with a sqn. Then there are 2 units who are 5 minutes apart because over the years they have moved from their original locations to where they are now on the closest edge to each other of their towns.

With the review of the strategic footprint will squadrons be moved to larger town or new units opened. Will there be a minimum distance between units and rationalisation take place. Will account of the travel times of the cadets to the new unit be taken into account.

2025 Strategy Pamphlet

Nope. Some are, some were formed much later and are still being formed now. Others have moved over time.
My unit opened in 1961.


The units are where the people are. Big towns have lots of units, highland Scotland has very few. The only real issue is when two small units are very close together, save money and staff and merge them. The cadets who join in two years time will not know any different and the staff can make new friends. The other issue is either not enough staff to be safe or not enough cadets to be viable.


Do you really thinks that’s how it would work?
Define small and close together?

We live in a relatively built up area, but the public transport is atrocious. If we were shut or our nearest sqns were shut, the cadets wouldn’t travel as it’s 7½ and 6½ miles to the nearest squadrons. I know from our town to the respective other towns the bus journeys are around an hour each way and I’m not convinced busses run very regularly at end of parade times. This has to be the factor to consider, as you cannot just expect that parents are able or would want to drive further. We have a lot of cadets who walk and cycle.

You would lose potential cadets from the losing town and as for staff, I’m not too sure.
There are people in the squadrons close to us, that are like neighbours, you talk to them but hope and pray they don’t want to come round or invite you over.


I used to travel 18 miles each way with no public transport when I was a cadet. Why do we think people won’t be bothered in travelling a bit. If you live in an area without public transport you are used to having to travel under your own steam and things are generally more spread out


Those days are over no one walks anymore.I was at work the other day and a call made it to my desk on an overflow.The lady at the other end was complaining that my company have shut the one road she takes her kids to school on(by car) a diversion is in place of course.She complained that the diversion was three miles! AND even though the diversion has passing places its was barely wide enough to get her XC90 Volvo through.Words failed me at this point.Considering I walked or biked to school when I was a lad and it was 4 miles away.I checked the map after she hung up the two schools in her town were less than a mile from her home.


It’s called parental paranoia, years ago you went to the local school, unless your parents had delusions of grandeur.


Paranoia with an in incredible sense of entitlement and in my view laziness


Maybe, and yes it’s not really acceptable (particularly that example) but that’s how life is and what people now expect. Most importantly, that’s what you’ve got to work with. If you, providing an optional voluntary service, refuse to work with the expectations of the people you are supplying, then you’ve got to accept that you’ll lose customers. Lose enough customers and your reason for being vanishes… and parents are customers as much as the cadets.

Maybe society will change in time, but you can’t demand or expect it.


This is completely forgotten and in many ways they are our main customers, after all it’s parents who pay subs, for camps, equipment etc, so they need to think they are getting value for money.


I do not like that perspective. If parents are customers then we really are the baby-sitting service that we joke about.

Cadets are THE customers, but parents are in partnership with the staff to facilitate it. Mostly sleeping partners to one extent or another, and that is fine by me.


Don’t try and delude yourself that we aren’t a baby-sitting service, regardless of parental involvement.

Cadets may be the ones we deliver to, but we only do that with their parents’ consent and agreement to cough up. If they don’t like it they can pull their youngsters out at any point, so you can see the point suggesting parents are the customers. If parents are not happy with something they’ll do one of two things, complain or pull their children out. 99 times out of 100, it will be the latter.


I think the professional term people are looking for is “stakeholders”. Cadet’s are direct customers, parents are stakeholders.


Wow. GM wing is currently in the process of closing 7 squadrons down - with the possibility of more to follow…

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