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The Junior NCO Course - by Sgt Hopkins

For many cadets becoming an NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) is the next key stage in their progression through the Air Training Corps. Newly promoted NCOs have to attend an NCO training weekend. Held by Surrey Wing these two and a half day courses enable NCOs to learn about their role in detail and fully understand their duties as well as being examined on their current strengths and weaknesses.

Cpl Fossett and I had the privilege to attend a weekend at Longmoor Camp in late January. Corporals wishing to become SNCO’s (Sergeants and Flight Sergeants) are placed on a JNCO course. SNCO courses are held for those who wish to further their achievements when they have reached the ranks of Sergeant, Flight Sergeant and Cadet Warrant Officer.

Corporal Fossett and I set off for the camp after the Wing Awards ceremony late Friday night. When we arrived at our barracks we quickly established ourselves with other cadets. The course is also a chance to socialise with other squadrons. Because Cpl Fossett and I had made friends with other NCO’s from other such important activities such as sports and academic events we settled in well. Your uniform has to be in its best condition seeing as we were aware that at any given moment an inspection may be undertaken so most of the nights were spent polishing parade shoes and using one iron among 50 cadets to make sure your uniform was crease free.

The Mornings started at 0630 and to be ready to march to breakfast in uniform for 0700. Marching had to be of the highest standard seeing as we shared the camp with the Army Cadets, ATC Adult Staff and Regular Army Personnel so we were representing the Air Cadets and our individual squadrons to a vast amount of people. Lessons followed from 0735 throughout the day to 2130 with a lunch in between.

On one occasion Cpl Fossett Became the IC of Surrey Wings JNCO’s and marched us to Lunch. For some cadets a full day of military routines may seem long and tiring however the day was broken up into different activities with social intervals. The Course wasn’t just Drill, inspection and Lessons we also had Greens indoor and outdoor initiative exercises to show our mentors that we had good leadership skills. The course also encourages you to work in a team; it wasn’t only working as a team on set exercises but also barracks tidying, general off duty behaviour and time management amongst mentor groups.

By the final day Cpl Fossett and I were to put all our knowledge that we had learnt to the test. We had to demonstrate our leadership skills in the following areas:
• Drill (teaching and own standards)
• Uniform Standards
• Cadet Welfare and Discipline
• ATC General Knowledge (with a General Service Knowledge test)
• Leadership based classroom tasks.

Some of these we found easy, others were more challenging however by the end of the weekend I think it was safe to say that we both felt a sense of pride that our hard work had contributed towards making ourselves better NCO’s and Air Cadets in general. I highly recommend to anyone wishing to become an S/JNCO that the weekend course is well worth undertaking. During the course you will experience likeminded cadets and become part of a team. Your knowledge and understanding of your role as a JNCO will strengthen and as a cadet you will feel more confident in your role as a J/SNCO.

Sergeant Hopkins

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