UK CLM Programmes PageBritish Army CLM Programmes Page

This article is divided into five parts for easier reading:

  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: Pre-Course Criteria
  • Part 3: Delivery of Training
  • Part 4: Outline of Training
  • Part 5: Miscellaneous

From October 2020, the Army CLM programme will be replaced by the Army Leadership Development Programme.


1.0     Introduction

All personnel selected for promotion to the rank of Lance Corporal (OR-3) within the British Army are required to complete Potential Non-Commissioned Officer (PNCO) Command, Leadership and Management (CLM) training.

PNCO CLM training is designed to equip personnel with the generic skills required of a Lance Corporal, the first level of command in the British Army, and is the first of four levels of training that personnel may undertake:

  • Level 1: Potential NCO (PNCO) CLM training.
  • Level 2: Junior NCO (JNCO) CLM training.
  • Level 3: Senior NCO (SNCO) CLM training.
  • Level 4: Warrant Officer (WO) CLM training.

PNCO CLM training consists of the pan-Army training requirement set in a context relevant to the particular Arms and Service (A&S) of the student. With this in mind, each Capability Directorate (Combat, Combat Support, Information and Combat Service Support) delivers CLM training in a different way depending upon other available courses that can be integrated into the respective CLM courses and also to meet Special-to-Arm (STA) training objectives.

PNCO CLM training focuses on theoretical command principles and the practical application of these principles during a mixture of classroom-based instruction and Infantry-based field exercises; being designed to develop the leadership qualities of personnel in all conditions.

The PNCO course is a standalone package after which the newly promoted Lance Corporal will be ‘CLM complete’, at this level, and hold substantive rank. However, for some, PNCO CLM training is part of their Phase 2 training, for example the Royal Military Police’s (RMPs) Initial Military Police (IMP) course.

“Overall, it has been a great experience and now I (as a newly promoted LCpl) look forward to performing section 2IC duties on future deployments and exercises.” (Rai, 2013, p.14).

The reader should note that British Army CLM training is routinely amended to reflect operational needs, and as a consequence these changes have an impact on the content of courses.

1.1     What is the Aim of the Course?

Rai (2014, p.14) outlines the aim of PNCO CLM training by stating:

“The aim of the course is to teach students about the skills required to develop NCOs capable of executing command, leadership and management under both operational and in-barrack conditions and also to develop them to be role models for their subordinates and to contribute to team ethos and operational effectiveness.”

Within the operational environment personnel are trained to be Section 2ICs (second-in-command), aiding Section Commanders (Corporals, OR-4) in the performance of their duties. Within the in-barrack environment Lance Corporals act as the first level of supervisor/team leader within the workplace.

There are eight areas (also see Table 1 below) which underpin the overall aim of PNCO CLM training, and CLM training in general, and include:

  1. Command and Lead;
  2. Develop Subordinates;
  3. Manage Activities;
  4. Perform Duties;
  5. Communicate effectively with peers, subordinates and seniors;
  6. Improve Own Learning and Performance;
  7. Lead Individual and Team Training; and
  8. Operate within UK Defence Policy.

1.2     Background

The British Army, in January 2004, introduced the Command, Leadership and Management (CLM) programme, which was initially designed to develop effective non-operational CLM skills in the Army’s NCOs and WOs.

In July 2007, the Review of Soldier Career Training and Education (RoSCTE) recommended that the scope of CLM training should be widened to include practical, operationally relevant leadership training.

As a result, the timing and content of CLM training was revised with mandatory CLM training being introduced, for the first time, for those selected for the rank of Lance Corporal.

1.3     Alternative Names for PNCO CLM Training

PNCO CLM training is also known by the following names:

  • PNCO CLM Cadre Course;
  • PNCO CLM Course;
  • Potential NCO CLM Cadre Course;
  • Potential NCO CLM Course;
  • PNCO Cadre;
  • PNCO Cadre Course; and
  • PNCO course.


2.0     Entry Requirements

There are a number of entry requirements for students to fulfil prior to attendance on a PNCO CLM training course, which include:

  • Must have been selected for promotion to the substantive rank of Lance Corporal;
  • Must be at Level 1 in their Basic Skills in literacy and numeracy (based on individual Arms and Service (A&S) policy; and
  • Must have passed Mandatory Annual Training Tests at Level 1 in the previous 12 months (based on individual A&S policy).

The priority for attendance on PNCO CLM training is given to individuals who have been selected for promotion. However, individuals that have been recommended but not selected for promotion may attend on a fill-up basis (this is subject to individual A&S policy). The PNCO course is not intended to be used as a selection criterion.

2.1     Basic Skills: Literacy and Numeracy

Students attending CLM training are required to be at a minimum basic skills numeracy and literacy standard to ensure that they can achieve all training objectives and to operate effectively in their rank; as set out in British Army’s Literacy and Numeracy Policy dated February 2012. For PNCO CLM training, students require literacy and numeracy at level 1 (GCSE grades D-G or equivalent qualifications); although some individual A&S do vary.

2.2     Medical Standards

The, typical, minimum medical fitness requirement to attend and complete all aspects of PNCO CLM training is PULHEEMS Employment Standard (PES); P2 Medically Fully Deployable (MFD). However, individual A&S vary. For example, Army Medical Services (AMS) personnel can undertake PNCO CLM training regardless of PES.

2.3     Fitness Standards

In general, students attending PNCO CLM training are assessed in their ability to lead Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS); the exception being Biomedical Scientists, Clinical Physiologists, Dental Hygienists, Dental Technicians and Health Care Assistants who are only required to participate in BCCS training.

Leading BCCS is a critical element of training and can be physical demanding; examples of this training can be found in Section 4.4 below. The physical requirements are derived from the Training Performance Statements approved by the Capability Directorates for each individual A&S.

2.4     Mandatory Annual Training Tests

Students attending PNCO CLM training are required to successfully complete a number of Mandatory Annual Training Tests (MATTs), subject to individual A&S policy, which include:

  • MATT 1: Weapon Handling Test (WHT, completed within previous 6 months).
  • MATT 2: Annual Fitness Test (AFT).
  • MATT 2: Personal Fitness Assessment (PFA, completed within previous 6 months).
  • MATT 3: Battlefield Casualty Drills (BCD).
  • MATT 4: Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN).
  • MATT 5: Navigation.
  • MATT 6: Values and Standards, Respect for Others, Healthy Living, Security, and Protecting Information.
  • MATT 7: Operational Law.
  • MATT 8: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training.
  • MATT 9: Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (CIED) Training.

Although the default requirement for MATTs is Level 1, achieved in the previous 12 months, individual A&S can tailor this requirement in order to prevent nugatory training (i.e. training of little value).

2.5     Information Technology (IT) Training

  • All attending CLM courses are to have completed Basic IT Skills training.
  • JPA training (e.g. the Self Service User E-Learning Course).

2.6     Special to Arm Pre-Course Training

Certain Capability Directorates require students to undertake specific Special-to-Arm (STA) training prior to commencing PNCO CLM training.


3.0     How is the Course Delivered?

Unlike the other CLM courses (see Section 1.0) which are delivered in three parts, PNCO CLM training is delivered through a single part, pre-substantiation course:

  • Normally delivered through distributed training at unit level, under the direction of Capability Directorates;
  • Centralised training delivered by, for example:
    • 4 (Military Training) Squadron of 11 (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment; or
    • Incorporated training as part of Phase 2 training, for example the RMPs IMP course, which upon successful completion students are awarded the substantive rank of Lance Corporal.

The course structure and content is the same for both courses. Lesson plans (known as Instructional Specifications or ISpecs) are published by the Directorate of Training (Army).

Units providing PNCO CLM training must meet the requirements laid out in the Operational Performance Statement (OPS) and must also ensure that:

  • A number of places are available to external units;
  • Unit instructors meet mandated instructor requirements; and
  • Any remediation requirements must be completed before the student is deemed to have completed the training.

3.1     Course Length

The course is a minimum of 8-days but duration varies from 8 to 36 days dependent on the unit delivering the course. For example, the Infantry mandates a 36-day course in contrast to the Household Cavalry and Royal Armoured Corps who mandate an 8-day course.

3.2     PNCO Instructors

Although the exact make-up of a training team will vary between units, a typical training team includes:

  • Lieutenant (OF-1): Course Officer/Director (can be a Warrant Officer (OR-8/9)).
  • Sergeant (OR-6): Course Leader.
  • Corporal (OR-4): Section Commander (x3-5).

Instructors are also known as Directing Staff or DS.

“Instructors were picked from across the unit to deliver presentations and lessons that would educate, explain and practise how a Lance Corporal could expect to utilise their rank and skills in their day to day life within their workplace.” (Mulligan, 2009, p.6).

3.3     Student Teams

Although students will be provisionally assigned a team (known as a Section) for the start of the course, this will not be confirmed until the results of the entrance test are announced (Section 2.0).

Course loading is a unit responsibility, with each course having a maximum of 40 students against an instructor ratio of 1:8 for PNCO CLM training.

3.4     Special-to-Arm Elements

A number of PNCO CLM training courses cover all the requirements of the British Army’s CLM policy and are therefore suitable for attendance by students from other A&S, provided that any STA elements are met.

3.5     Army Reserve PNCO CLM Training

Army Reserve students may attend PNCO CLM training on either a Regular Army course or Army Reserve course:

  • “Other activity over the last two months has included running the Potential NCO Cadre for the whole of the Royal Engineers Army Reserve…” (Sapper, 2014, p.712).
  • “The whole integration piece also worked well on the PNCO course with reserve [Royal Corps of Signals] soldiers holding their own amongst a very highly competitive course.” (James, 2014, p.69).


4.0     Outline of PNCO CLM Training

PNCO CLM training can be viewed as two separate, but interlinked, phases of training:

  • Phase1: Classroom-based Training; and
  • Phase 2: Field-based Training.

Students will typically be divided into 8-man sections for the duration of the course.

4.1     Entrance Test

Students undertaking PNCO CLM training will have an entrance test that must be passed in order to stay on the course. However, the type of test that students will undertake varies between the A&S. For example:

  • The Royal Corps of Signals utilises the “Annual Fitness Test” (AFT), an 8-mile weighted march (15 kg load) (James, 2014, p.69); and
  • The Brigade of Gurkhas utilises the “Personal Fitness Assessment” (PFA), which is a combination of a 2.4 km (1.5 m) run, press-ups and sit-ups (Rai, 2013, p.14).

The entrance test (either AFT or PFA) must be completed successfully to demonstrate that the student has the basic fitness standard required to complete the physical elements of the course safely. A student who fails the entrance test will be considered ‘at risk’ and must undertake another AFT/PFA after a period of seven days. A student who fails to complete the entrance test will not be allowed to continue their PNCO CLM training as they risk injury to themselves and others, and will be subject to the RTU (return to unit) procedure. Further, non-completion will count as an attempt at CLM within the 12 month period.

“After the AFT, the CLM contingent sat at 9 from the 15 who started and the PNCO course had also dropped 2 [from the 23 who started].” (James, 2014, p.69).

4.2     Training and Enabling Objectives

Table 1 outlines the training objectives (TOs) and enabling objectives (EOs) for PNCO CLM training.

Table 1: PNCO CLM Training TOs & EOs
  1. For certain A&S, such as the Royal Corps of Signals, training objective 5 matches training delivered through the Army Apprenticeship Scheme.
  2. More information on the British Army’s DTTT v2 qualification can be found here.

4.3     Classroom-based Training

Language Training at Fort Bragg

Classroom-based training focuses on theoretical command principles and includes (Ndirangu, 2014):

  • 7 Pillars of Health.
  • Duties of a JNCO.
  • Equality and Diversity.
  • AGAI 67 Process (aka the disciplinary process).
  • Defence Writing.
  • Leadership, including “Command tasks” (Mulligan, 2009, p.6).
  • “Delivery of a short presentation” (Mulligan, 2009 p.6), students may be given a topic or choose their own.
  • “…by providing a ‘cheeky’ burden retrieval course to place the students under testing conditions and to provide leadership opportunities during Physical Leadership Development (PLD) 1” (Mulligan, 2009, p.6).

4.4     Field-based Training

Field-based training is the practical application of the theoretical command principles learnt during the first phase of training and is developed through Infantry-based field exercises. The main reasoning behind this is that all JNCOs, unless medically down-graded, are expected to be capable of deploying on operations where they may be required to command soldiers in a contact situation (think people shooting at you). Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS) training is designed to meet this operational requirement and is incorporated into PNCO CLM training as a critical training objective (Table 1 above), with two caveats:

  1. Attendance is mandatory for what the Army calls Category 2 personnel, i.e. Biomedical Scientist, Clinical Physiologist, Dental Hygienist, Dental Technician, Health Care Assistant, Radiographers and Registered Nurses. However, they are only required to participate and not lead in BCCS training; and
  2. Those personnel who are restricted to Home Service only, including the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS), are exempt the BCCS training requirement.

As part of PNCO BCCS training, students will participate in a number of battle lessons (BL) and battle exercises (BE) each day of their field-based training (carrying 35-50kg). Students will be expected to traverse rough terrain, move tactically and adopt fire positions (i.e. lying, sitting, squatting or standing) as dictated by ground cover. Students will also be expected to complete tactical BCCS tasks as part of their field-based training and will include (Ndirangu, 2014):

  • Navigation (e.g. map reading, bearings and pacings).
  • Field-craft (i.e. camouflage and concealment).
  • Target Indication (TI) and Fire Control Orders (FCOs).
  • Prisoner handling drills.
  • Battlefield casualty drills (BCD).
  • Patrolling (receive orders for a patrol, plan a patrol, conduct patrol (as Team Leader and Team Member), and write patrol report).
  • Receive and (perhaps) deliver orders.
  • Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS).
  • Model-making.
  • Patrol Base Harbour/Forward Operating Base (FOB) drills.
  • Fire Team, Section and Platoon attacks.
  • Living in a field location digging shell scrapes (a body length trench dug to a depth of 12 inches) but not fire trenches for protection.

4.5     Completion of Training

On completion of PNCO CLM training, students will be graded as follows:

  • Pass (Competent): Suitable for promotion now.
  • Pass (Not yet competent): Suitable for promotion once the Commanding Officer (CO) has satisfied themselves that the soldier has successfully achieved remediation training in the specified TOs. Those who subsequently fail to achieve a Pass within that period must be selected to attend another PNCO CLM training course.
  • Fail: Not suitable for promotion and must be selected to attend another PNCO CLM training course.

There are two critical training tasks within PNCO CLM training:

  1. Values and Standards assessed in EO 1.1; and
  2. Lead BCCS assessed through EO 1.4.

Both must be successfully completed by an individual before substantive promotion can be awarded.

4.6     Course Awards

There are typically two awards for students on PNCO CLM training, and include:

  • Top Student (overall).
  • Top Field Soldier (Field-based training).

Like other military courses, the student deemed to have achieved the most overall during PNCO CLM training will be nominated top student, and receive a certificate confirming this.


5.0     Accreditation

PNCO courses are accredited with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). Students who successfully complete PNCO CLM training can apply for a Level 2 Certificate in Leadership and Teams Skills via the Army Skills Offer (ILM, 2015).

5.1     References

Douglas, A. (2009) Exercise Eagles Fell: Potential NCO Cadre (PNCO). The Wire: The Magazine of the Royal Corps of Signals. April 2009, pp.58.

ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) (2015) Army Accreditation. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 21 October, 2015].

James, A. (2014) Exercise HORSESHOE WARRIOR 14: 2 to 20 July 2014. The Wire: The Magazine of the Royal Corps of Signals. December 2014, pp.68-69.

Mulligan, P. (2009) Potential NCO CLM Cadre. The Wire: The Magazine of the Royal Corps of Signals. April 2009, pp.5-7.

Ndirangu, T. (2014) PNCO Cadre. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 21 October, 2015].

Rai, T.J. (2013) 36 Engineer Regiment PNCO Cadre. Parbate. 65(8), December 2013, pp.14-15.

Sapper. (2014) Commando Highlights. Sapper: Magazine of the Royal Engineers. December 2014, pp.712-713.

Scott, A. (2009) A New ‘Spec Ops’ Tale. The Wire: The Magazine of the Royal Corps of Signals. April 2009, pp.18-19.