Unexpectedly becoming temporary OC

Hi all,

I did not expect my second post on this forum to be a) so soon and b) while still a CI and awaiting appointment to A/ Plt Off on VP…

The context is:

I am an ex cadet, reaching Cdt Sgt and leaving around 2011 at 17. I rejoined as a CI in late 2022, with an intention of going into uniform and one day running a squadron…

  • January 24 I sat and passed the wing commissioning board.
  • February 24 I was made training officer after the old training officer had left the squadron.
  • This month I sat and passed the region commissioning board - currently awaiting appointment on SMS to APO.
  • I found out very recently that the OC is taking some time out and I have been unexpectedly asked to become the caretaker until their return, as their only “officer” (pending) on squadron - with my consent of course, it was not expected or required of me and I chose to take this on.

I would like to reach out to the experience of you all on this forum to get your tips for a new and temporary caretaker OC. It’s difficult for me because I have gone from being a CI with little to do with the practical running of the unit to going into uniform, taking on training officer and now OC in the space of about 4 weeks which is a lot of change.

Some questions:

  • As a caretaker OC where do the boundaries lie? What are my responsibilities?
  • What are my limits for what I can do vs what a full OC can do?
  • Which of the key RAFAC documents would it be useful for me to know inside out?
  • Can I delegate some of my training officer responsibilities while I am taking OC?
  • What else do I need to know?

I am lucky in that we have a strong cadet NCO team, and a good supportive staff team and sector commander, but I am quite unsure as to how to proceed…

Any tips and tricks are welcome to help balance all of the above!

Many thanks,


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As a caretaker OC the assumption is that you’ll hand it back. Whilst that remains a fair assumption I’d be careful about making major changes to things such as flight structure, general pattern for training plan, criteria for promotion etc.
If there is something you want to change like that then I would consult the OC that you are filling in for. Once it becomes clear that they are unlikely to return then you have free reign.


Keep it stable,

Change nothing and just maintain.

Ask for help from sector team and local Sqns and wing teams.

Do what you have a capacity to do, dont stretch yourself too thin


This last point is crucial.

The powers that be are asking more and more of OCs. It doesn’t matter if you’re temporary or not, they will levy the same expectations on you.

My key learning from being appointed an OC 1 week after commissioning was learning to say no and mean it.


As caretaker - stability

Absolutely share your duties out as training officer to those who are able / willing

If things need to go on old, then they go on hold.

Don’t take the weight of the Squadron fully on your shoulders - which is super easy to do. I was in a similar position of being caretaker that was supposed to be 6 weeks. One big thing I wish I had done was leaned on my Sector Commander - even just coffee and a chat, and made sure I was in the loop (sometimes without the details due to privacy) but to manage expectations.

Whilst not making any big changes whilst your caretaker absolutely don’t be afraid to make decisions because your only temporary


As someone who is newly appointed check out ACTO94 for the areas you should have understanding around. Acto 10 for the event approval requirements

Keep things stable & get an idea of boundaries & fwd plans from the current OC.

Have a quick brief at the start of the night so everyone is happy what the plan is (give the CO update is any, training officer does their brief & them items from Adj) should take no more than ten minutes but it makes sure that you’re in the loop.

At end of night do a quick hot debrief with staff & the Snr Cdt NCOs do you are briefed on any problems & people get a quick chance to vent before going home so they’re not carry frustrations across parade night.


This is something I was asked to do and I’m still doing it nearly 12 months later…just a couple of months after returning from NEP myself.

Don’t change too much, but change what’s necessary.

Reach out for support to run what you can - sector OC, Wing etc.

Don’t allow yourself to burn out. I’m close, but I have a good staff team.

Other than that - it is a constant learning curve and I don’t have a grip on it yet either, so be kind to yourself because you will make slip ups.


Don’t fall into the trap of ‘do this or do that or the Squadron will close’. If its survival is down to one person then the wing needs to provide support.

I’d be tempted to offload the training role completely but sit down with the core staff and formulate at least an outline plan for the next 6 months, so whoever is looking after training whilst you are the boss has a good idea of the direction you want it to go in.

Hopefully the former OC has left things in good order and not too many skeletons in the cupboards!

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Get used to using the phrase “No, Sir/Ma’am I can’t do that” as the default reply to superiors. That way you can prioritise the important core tasks you can achieve with the limited time and resources you have. We’re all volunteers, and can only be sacked for gross misconduct amounting to criminal offenses, such as child protection issues.

Delegate as many tasks as it is possible to do to subordinates. Don’t take them on yourself: it’s better to cancel activities than have to do them all yourself.

Never micro-manage your subordinates, particularly in those areas where you are much better at doing the job than they are. So long as they come up to the basic standard required to get the task done, let them get on with it. Only intervene to give verbal advice, encouragement or support at the times they are needed.

All fine in theory, of course. Those principles worked for me when I was a regular NCO in the RAF, once I’d got the measure of the job. :roll_eyes: