Cadet units are youth groups funded and supported by the Ministry of Defence. Community Cadet units are either Army, Sea or Air Training cadets. The school-based Combined Cadet Force contain one or more sections from the Navy, Marines, Army or RAF.
A young person can join the cadets aged 12, although Sea cadets can join as young as 10 years old. The units are run by adult volunteers who may or may not have a military background
Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) have traditionally operated in private schools. As part of the government promotion of ‘military ethos’ in schools, the Cadet Expansion Programme was launched in 2012 to establish 100 new cadet units in state secondary schools in England.
The cadets are an effective tool to influence young people and build public support for the military. They normalise the use of weapons and provide a direct pathway to recruitment for some.
The Ministry of Defence has said the cadets are not about recruiting into the armed forces but has also called the cadets, “a powerful tool for facilitating recruitment”. The MoD is keen that the cadets are seen primarily as a youth organisation and this is facilitated by presenting the cadets as addressing wider government concerns around attainment in schools, character development and social mobility.