Why do it?

I got an email from one of the CIs on the squadron asking what are the direct and personal advantages and benefits about going into uniform.

I am seriously struggling beyond the odd days of getting “paid”.
Everything else seems to benefit the organisation and not the individual. It’s difficult to directly correlate the ‘development’ side as it’s not directly benefited me in my personal or work life.

Any clues as they seem keen?

Sadly because the reality of the situation is that if you want to make a difference to the way things are run you need to have the authority which a uniform provides. Being a CI eventually becomes quite frustrating for some who are sick of being largely ignored.

(BTW, I don’t particularly agree that that is a correct stance, just seems to me to be how it is.)

It very much depends on your personal ego and what you get off on. If you want to rise through the ranks and take control, or walt it up pretending to be a regular, or you like dressing in a uniform so smart it’s got a PhD from Cambridge then there is perhaps some deeper advantage to uniformed service over that of a CI.

Other than that, getting money for it is just about the lot.

For me, I relish the opportunity to be in charge and mold the Squadron into an effective unit which offers ‘a good ATC’ to every cadet that steps through the door. You can’t really do that as a Civilian Instructor because that isn’t within a CIs gift…unless they are really unlucky I suppose.

I get a kick out of making the unit better and better over time and knowing that I am doing something genuingly meaningful and quite selfless to help others - I know, get the bucket etc but that’s how I feel.

I really like the people I work with on the Sqn and I consider them all to be my friends as well as colleagues and subordinates - seeing them develop into better people is also fantastic and a real thrill - espicially when their ATC service benefits them in their real lives with jobs etc.

Getting ‘Volunteer Allowance’ is a spin off benefit to the above. And the bars are still pretty good value in OMs even today :wink:

Go into uniform by all means so that you can have a greater chance of making a positive difference - just don’t let yourself become the subject of a conversation I had today whilst away on a course. The general theme was about VRT officers in particular (and some WO/SNCO) who for example ‘play dress up and ponce around in the mess like a throbber’. There was also the general agreement that many ATC types do a good job of what we do.

I’m going to speak to them tomorrow night.

The unfortunate thing is the ‘benefits’ as described are as such largely esoteric and altruistic and mostly down to having a personal ambition. The other unfortunate thing is ego comes into it for many younger ones, who think they are going to change the world and then find out the reality of the situation. There should be more personal benefits to being in uniform, other than massaging your ego and remuneration.

It is an extremely sad state of affairs that CIs are treated so poorly by the organisation. To a lesser degree locally (although some young COs seem to think it’s OK to ignore CIs with no desire for a uniform) and more widely nationally by policy, closed minds and ‘we’ve always done it like that’ attitude. The one who has enquired is a very active RCO (out and about most weekends doing ranges) and looking to be a SAAI, but has said when at events and meetings ‘the uniforms’ largely ignore them. I know the people involved and I am not at all surprised. Not one of them could get anymore up themselves if they had to.

I’m sorry but I cannot disagree more, I am sick fed up hearing this utter drivel :rage::rage::rage:
I was a CI and got out as much as I put in, I went into uniform for various reasons but never because I was poorly treated, in fact I think I did and saw more at camps than I get to do now.
I had 5 CIs in my squadron but I soon got rid of 3 due to their attitude of “I am being poorly treated” I asked them out right…
if they felt it was me, NO
Was it wing, NO
Was there something they wanted to do that they could not do because you have to be uniformed, NO
So how did they think they were poorly treated, BECAUSE THEY READ IT ON A FORUM!!!

Yes somethings could improve but across the entire organisation it could improve…
To say CIs are the only ones that are hard done by is wrong.

Sorry RANT over


and if you can find a post on this - or any other - forum that says that i’ll give you a lollipop.

CI’s feel somewhere between unvalued and as welcome as Ebola for a number of specific reasons:

there is not a CI or former CI in the ACO who has not had the following experience - a new CI is approached by the Sector WSO/WingCommander/other who is all ‘hail fellow well met’, asks him/her about themselves and then then asks the ‘and do you see yourself going into uniform?’ question. when the new CI replies either ‘no sir’, or ‘not yet sir’, the previously engaging officer makes a hurrumphing sound and walks away, never to speak to that CI again.

when the new CI is preparing to go away on his first weekend camp with the Sqn, he asks if he can borrow some greens, like everyone else will be wearing. the ACO says 'sorry mate, i know the SNCO (ATC)‘s who are also civilians can wear them, i know the cadets, who are children and civilians can wear them, but you can’t - so get yourself down to Decathlon or Cotswold and spend £400 on civvy walking gear, not down the local Army surplus place that would fit you out in the same stuff for £100 if you were allowed to wear it’.

the new CI, despite the above, discovers that his work pattern means he is able to go to a DTE range conference or to take over accomodation for a weekend camp while everyone else is at work, so he volunteers to do so because he’s a nice guy. when he gets to whatever MOD facility he’s going to he is required to spend 30 minutes explaining who he is and why hasn’t he got any MOD ID when he’s an MOD sponsored CFAV. the ACO says ‘sorry pal, i know you give up your time for free, and i know we give MOD ID to the SNCO (ATC) who does nothing other than shout at children on a parade square on a thursday night, but you, and your time, aren’t important enough to us to give you the same/similar ID as someone who has passed no more security checks than you and spends no more time at MOD guardrooms than you’.

then theres the issue of pay - sorry, i mean volunteer allowance… in order to drive the Sqn or white fleet minibus for other people most CFAV’s need a D1 licence. the ACO kindly provides this through a 5 day course at Leconfeild. however, its during week when most people have to work, so you could take annual leave, but that really cuts into your family holidays and your wife has already had a sense of humour failure over you being out 1 weekend in 3 with other peoples kids rather than your own. you could take unpaid leave, but you simply can’t afford to lose a weeks pay - everyone else, of course, gets a contribution from the ACO for the loss of that weeks pay, but not you, because you’re a CI.

if you don’t already know all this, and regularly send screaming emails up your CoC about how this stuff destroys moralé amongst 50% of the ACO’s adult staff, then you must be a pretty crap OC.


We all know they aren’t, but they are the biggest staff group in the organisation and the points raised by Angus are well known and valid. I know that without the CIs on the squadrons I’ve run, my life would have been a complete nightmare and the squadrons wouldn’t have operated.
It would be nice to feel able to lose 3 members of staff. The CIs on the squadron I currently run have all run into the ‘you’re just a CI, so incapable of doing things’ attitude, but take heart from the fact that I actually give them things to do that are integral to the running of the sqn. Doesn’t go down well with Wing but I like round pegs in round holes.

If you can run a squadron without CIs, by which I mean only uniformed staff (taking into account their real lives) for more than 2-3 months without getting close to a physical and mental breakdown. There is me and 3 SNCOs and we all have days when we can’t make it to parades and or other things, so without the CIs there are nights we would (officially) close. All but one of our cdt NCOs are all in the throws of exam preparation so miss nights.

When I joined the squadron I’m on now there was me and 2 other staff which was exhausting. No help from Wing so I built the staff up and they were bar one CIs. I had some parents who were willing to get on board and one is still with me as TO, which she has been for quite while now. I told the WSO at the time not to ask them about uniform as I had and they didn’t want it.

But on my original post, there is still nothing really coming about the personal benefits of being in uniform, apart from the arcane and esoteric.

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i fear that there is a good reason for this…

take your CI tinted glasses off and look logically at I said and what you said…

In our sector/ wing we take care and interest in all our staff, we have separate officer/ SNCO and CI training days so that can highlight issues they may have and help develop them do what they want to achieve in the corps as CIs/ SNCOs /officers.

I agree it is a joke about ID cards

Your uniform and walking argument holds water like a sieve…
When doing outdoors activities such as a weekend camp a uniformed member will need to supply MTP/DPM uniform which can easily match the cost of civilian clothing also the uniformed staff member will require to go and get civilian walking equipment for example for DofE as well as MTP/DPM uniform. So who is worse off??

As for pay, it’s the rules they are aware of this before joining and where possible the ACO ensure they are not out of pocket for messing. If a CI wants paid then the door is open for them to get a uniform but there is a catch for a lot of CIs… They need to take responsibility…something I have to say I am finding CIs more and more reluctant to do.

Everyone is in the same boat regarding morale, uniformed staff, CIs are all getting hit from both sides with crap to make people in their ivory towers look good!

A large majority of staff are CI’s but of that 50% how many actually turn up and contribute on a regular basis? How many actively take part in activities outside their squadron?
A CI is something that most here have been or are, most on this board will know the issues that the staff of the ACO face BUT we are not a balanced representation of the ACO. I think for the majority of those on this board, we are ones that have strived to do what we can in the ACO to make the cadet experience that little bit better and we know where we are failing and could improve and within our squadron we have a few CIs that go that extra mile. for the vast majority of CIs they will never go outside the squadron, turn up when they can or feel like it and don’t need to worry about minimum hours at the squadron. A CI is not expected to attend and annual camp they are encouraged and asked to attend (as they should be with out doubt) but uniform staff are expected to attend. There are pros and cons for all positions and good and bad staff that we can put up as examples but to keep saying 50% of our staff are CIs and they are treated badly is I’m afraid wrong they have it easier than the uniformed staff in most cases

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I[quote=“Teflon, post:9, topic:2139”]
It would be nice to feel able to lose 3 members of staff.

Teflon I agree to loose staff isn’t good but to carry staff for the sake of having staff on paper to me isn’t viable. I expect all my staff to help assist where possible, the staff I mentioned did not contribute, turn up or get involved at that point I’m afraid to say you have to cut the cord.

I will be honest in my sqn I have a brand new shiny officer, 3 NCOs and 2 CIs.
The new officer is learning and will take time to come through
The NCOs 1 has been in a long long time and to loose her wouldn’t be all that bad. Tons of experience, lots of Tshirts but no incline now to use it but has plenty to say regarding our wing and poor staff but isn’t willing to help train younger staff
The other 2 have been appointed a year but being pulled down by the old WO.
The CIs one is very switched on and does stuff, the other full of enthusiasm but makes some major mistakes due to him not being fully IT literate but always trying to get in and help…
With all this staff I struggle to keep going…

I now have our WSO getting involved to sort out the WO

So it’s not great having to deal with staff but eventually we need to say enough is enough and deal with the staff accordingly.

If you think I am hard on my staff, if someone needs help I’m there either in the squadron or outwith. Twice a year I take the staff out full dinner and drinks (paid for by my own company) as a thank you. I have other staff at squadrons comment to mine how lucky they are for what I do for the staff all I expect is a a bit of dedication to the squadron. As I well know we need the staff at a squadron as much as we need the cadets👍

Well, on my squadron there are at least 3 CIs who attend considerably more often than any of the uniformed staff (not that this is a criticism of the uniformed staff who have outside lives as well). The same 3 originate and lead most of the activities that are not on parade nights. There are a number of evenings that are entirely CI led with no adult uniformed staff present. You may guess how I know this!

Of the other issues I think that the lack of ANY form of ID is appalling. It occurred to me during door to door poppy collections last year that there was nothing to differentiate me from a latter day Fagin using children to get money. The sooner that the Commandant and HQAC sort this one out the better.

As for clothing, how dare the organisation tell a civilian what clothes he can, or cannot wear when the organisation fails to supply suitable (or any) protective clothing. I choose to ignore this instruction on the basis that if the powers-that-be don’t like it, they can send me home.

Pay is the least important thing for me. I would be really happy if no-one in the organisation got paid if it got one more Viking or Vigilant into the air.

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Sorry, “Door to Door” poppy collections? I’m sure that we aren’t supposed to do that? Someone correct me here please

Not 100% but I think you can as long as the cadets are escorted and in sight.

Basically cadet chaps door and staff is either beside them or at the gate watching the door.

I think…
But it’s not something I would do

I didn’t think you could anymore, but I can’t find guidance on Bader. I know I’d never get that PIPE through Wing!

I’ve long felt that the ATC has an odd relationship with CIs. We’re a uniformed organisation, and it seems to me that the idea of a CI is an occasional attender who pops in every now and then to instruct in something. In reality though, CIs are seen as the ‘backbone’ of the corps and you essentially need to be a CI before going into uniform.

I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I have to say I do occasionally get slightly confused as to why someone would join a uniformed organisation, throw themselves fully into it but not want to be in uniform.

I’m a CI, have been for about 3 years now, and even though I feel like I’ve “outgrown” my CI-dom and have filled out my commissioning paperwork, I feel too busy to commit to the last few steps… Interview prep, board, OASC and OIC. I’ve got far too much on already with running camps, courses, ranges, etc. nearly every weekend on top of my Training Officer duties.

I still think we should move to the ACF system, our existing CI’s stay as such but all new joiners become PI’s and then channels into uniform.

I think it’s what makes the Corps what it is.
As a CI you can determine the level of your committment, afterall isn’t that a general definition of volunteering? That can be every night and weekend or as and when, which is a flexibility that works for squadrons and individuals. On this forum there are general comments about lack of staff etc, so if you have someone turn up but has no interest or desire to wear a blue suit, do you want to risk losing them? When you look at the average ACF unit, they don’t have the same numbers of staff as an ATC unit. Our local one has never had more than 4.
Put everyone into uniform and you immediately lose that flexibility, Corps might like to imply that the there is flexibility, but only in so far as it works for the Corps and not the individual.

As the CI enquired, what do they get out of being in uniform that is directly beneficial / advantageous to them? The general line is … nothing. Being in a uniform is all for the organisation and those that like to play at being in the RAF so they can Lord it over people.

What about (like we have around the Wing), former uniformed staff who have given up the uniform and become CIs. Would this be allowed in a Corps with no CIs? One of my older mates resigned his commission 4 years ago (caused a kerfuffle as he did it from being the OC and gave them 2 months notice) and has said it’s been marvellous. Turn up, do what he does, which is quite a lot, and go home and no worries about this or that you get as the CO. He said he found it difficult at first, but soon adjusted to it and his wife quite likes him getting home around 10pm instead of 11 or so.