Four brigadiers and a dinner – The Commandant poses a question.

Question: What do 2 generals, 4 brigadiers, 100 colonels, 1 commander, 1 group captain and a doctor have in common?

Answer: All attended the Army Cadet Force Commandants’ Conference held in Aldershot in early September.

The attendance list included most of the 57 commandants of the ACF, as well as Regular Army and Cadets Branch staff of HQ Regional Command – the part of the Army that looks after the ACF. Everyone was there to discuss the future direction of the ACF along with an opportunity for discussion and debate on key topics.

Well, with all those high heid yins in the room, what was discussed?

Syllabus: this was seen as good, but there are challenges in delivery especially post 2 Star. Overheat – there may be too much content and testing. Is there an opportunity to formalise & represent Values and Standards?

Senior Cadets: How do we attract and retain 16-17 year olds? Should there be improved engagement with Regular and Reserve units? Should cadet Leadership Courses be delivered regionally, or even mandated at 3 Star? How do we improve use of Adventurous Training? Should ‘Challenger’ platoons or companies be set up, focused on senior cadet programmes?

Adult volunteers: There will be a new Fieldcraft Instructors Course at Frimley next year. There is new junior officer training, finishing with an intermediate officer course held at Sandhurst. The adult leadership and management course will also be changing.

The ACF Manual is being updated (it is now 10 years old) and will include safety regulations and all of the other guidance that we use. This will all now be pulled together in to a new document called ACF Regulations.

Intermixed with all of the talk about policy and direction, there was time for a formal dinner held in the Officers’ Mess of the Royal School of Military Engineering.

All in all, the weekend was interesting and enjoyable. I left with two distinct impressions. Firstly the Army is very proud of the ACF. Secondly it is very keen to invest, develop and grow what we do for our cadets and adults.

I left refreshed and assured that the ACF is in good hands.