This article on the UK’s Service Cadet Organisations is divided into Five Parts:


3.0     Introduction

This part of the article discusses the role of the various Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations (RFCA’s).

The ancestor of RFCA’s were originally established in 1908 as Territorial Associations with the remit of providing local support to the Territorial Force in every county.

In 1999, the name of the Territorial, Auxiliary, and Volunteer Reserve Associations (TAVRA’s) was changed to the present title.

The RFCA’s are established by Act of Parliament, each with its own scheme of association, drawn up by the Defence Council under the Reserve Forces Act 1996 (RFA 96), therefore the RFCAs are ‘arm’s length bodies’ of the MOD. These schemes last for five years, after which reconstitution must take place (RFCA, 2018).

3.1     What is a Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association?

A RFCA is considered a “Central Government body with Crown Status” (Cabinet Office, 2007; CRFCA, 2017; RFCA, 2018), acting as an independent and autonomous Tri-Service corporate body. They are established in accordance with the provisions of the RFA 96 (Part XI and Schedule 4). As such, they are independent, community-based organisations with the responsibility of advising and assisting the Defence Council on issues concerning the reservists and cadets in their region.

Working cooperatively as part of a network, there are thirteen autonomous RFCA’s located across the four constituent countries of the UK:

  1. East Midlands RFCA.
  2. East Anglia RFCA.
  3. Greater London RFCA containing The City of London RFCA, which is a sub-association, the only one in the country (City of London Policy & Resources Committee, 2013).
  4. Highland RFCA.
  5. Lowland RFCA.
  6. North of England RFCA.
  7. North West of England & the Isle of Man RFCA.
  8. Northern Ireland RFCA.
  9. South East RFCA.
  10. Wales RFCA.
  11. Wessex RFCA.
  12. West Midland RFCA.
  13. Yorkshire and the Humber RFCA.

RFCA’s are operated by (MOD, 2014):

  • 783 permanent staff (of which 486 are in direct support of the cadet organisations);
  • 2,015 unpaid volunteer members; and
  • 8,000 volunteer non-members.

These staff and volunteers ensure that the approximately 2,300 cadet centres are properly maintained and new facilities are built when the need arises.

3.2     What is the Role of a RFCA?

The general role of a RFCA is to provide support to the Reserve Forces and Service Cadet Organisations across the region in order to enhance their effectiveness, and through representation by the RFCA to inform and influence the wider community on issues relating to the Armed Forces-in-Society.

More specific examples of the role of a RFCA includes:

  • Being a focal point for promoting and supporting the reserves and cadets from all three Services based in their region.
  • Providing advice, technical expertise, and support.
  • Property management for reserve and cadet units within their region; for example, reserve training centres, cadet centres, and training areas.
  • Relationship management for defence and employers of reservists & cadets.
  • Engaging with young people to educate them of the practical and academic skills they can gain by joining a cadet service organisation.
  • Recruiting cadet force adult volunteers who guide the development of the next generation;
  • Liaison between businesses, local communities, members of parliament (MP’s), local government (e.g. councils), and other parts of the defence personnel community.
  • Engaging with commercial business in a wide variety of trade and professions.

3.3     What is the Organisation of a RFCA?

Each RFCA comprises a body of volunteer members drawn from all strata of society with a professional (salaried) secretariat that is employed by the RFCA’s (who are Crown servants). This secretariat, or executive staff, manages the day-to-day operations of the RFCA.

A RFCA is composed of a management board and a number of area committees, with the membership being made up of:

  • Lord Lieutenants (Ex-Officio President and Vice Presidents).
  • Ex-Officio unit and sub-unit commanders of the Naval, Marine, Army and Air Force Reserves.
    • Chairman (Brown, 2018).
    • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Usually a retired OF-5 level officer (e.g. Colonel).
  • The Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps, Selected Regular and Reserve personnel with interests in the Reserves.
  • Cadets Representatives of Local Government, Universities, Employers, Employees and all four Service Cadet Organisations (SCC, ACF, ATC, and CCF).
    • RFCA’s have a local council representative in the form of an elected councillor.

Example RFCA jobs include:

  • Head of Finance.
  • Head of Estates.
  • Cadet Executive Officer.
  • Estates Surveyor (C2 Grade Crown Servant post).
  • Building Maintenance Officer (C2 Grade Crown Servant post).
  • School Cadet Expansion Officer (RFCA NE, 2018).

3.4     Why do RFCA’s receive MOD Funding?

Funding for RFCA activities is derived from MOD Stakeholders which include the Defence Staff, HQ Fleet, HQ Land Forces, HQ Air Command, and Defence Estates.

RFCA’s receive funding from the MOD to enable them to carry out their core business; supporting and promoting the reserve and cadet forces within their region. Grants are made:

  • To meet the general expenses of reserve unit administration;
  • For the management of the reserve and cadet estate;
  • To provide funds to the cadet service organisations; and
  • To enable the RFCA to provide recruiting support to the reserve and cadet units across the region.

3.5     Governance of RFCA’s

Governance is exercised by a Ministerial Advisory Committee of the MOD, through the Council of RFCAs, to the individual RFCA.

All financial aspects of RFCA business is subject to regular scrutiny by a Finance Committee made up of members of the RFCA who have financial and business acumen. In addition, all funds are audited annually in accordance with UK government accounting regulations.

Each RFCA is reported upon against a range of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) which lay out the support provided by the RFCAs to the single services of the MOD (RFCA, 2018).

3.6     What is the Council of RFCA’s?

The Council of Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations (CRFCA) is a joint committee established under the provisions of the RFA 96 (Section 116), and provides a strategic level interface between defence customers and the 13 RFCA’s, as well as providing guidance and advice to the CRFCA Board (CRFCA, 2017).

In simple terms, the CRFCA has the overall responsibility for:

  • Negotiating the provision of funds on behalf of all RFCA’s; and
  • Allocating this money down to the individual RFCA.

The genesis for the UK Reserve Forces External Scrutiny Team Annual Report comes initially from a recommendation that the MOD should introduce independent reporting on the progress of reforming the Reserves, following the work of the Future Reserves 2020 Commission. The first two reports were provided at the request of the Secretary of State for Defence in 2013 and 2014. On 01 October 2014, the RFCA’s had a statutory duty placed on them to report annually to Parliament on the state of the UK’s Reserve Forces.

Return to Part 02 Continue on to Part 04