Post by kiwimrsmac on Mar 29, 2012 11:50:49 GMT 12
Temporary Order, T3/2011 - New Zealand Cadet Force Under Officer and Master Cadet Rank, was issued at the end of September 2011 (the Order).
There was no consultation before the Order was issued, and no warning from NZCF HQ that there was an imminent change in policy about to be issued.
The Order took immediate effect.
Below I have addressed the areas of concern with the Temporary Order, and detail some of the anomalies between the Order, New Zealand legislation and current provisions as laid out in the Defence Force Order 7 (DFO7).
Current Terms and Conditions of Membership of the New Zealand Cadet Forces
The current Terms and Conditions of Membership of the New Zealand Cadet Forces, as laid out in the DFO7, allow senior cadets to serve until their 21st birthday, and under exceptional circumstances, until their 23rd birthday. The current wording of the DFO7 is set out below:
Terms of Membership 9.6 Provided there is a vacancy within the Cadet Unit establishment a Cadet may: a/ serve until his/her 18th birthday; b/ be permitted to serve until his/her 21st birthday at the discretion of the CUCDR provided that they are:
a MCDT, CDTU/O or Cadet NCO, and held against a vacancy in the Cadet Unit establishment; employed in the Cadet Unit on Cadet administrative or instructional duties;
Continuation of a Cadet’s Service as a MCDT, CDTU/O, or NZCF Officer beyond their 21st birthday to their 23rd birthday requires a submission through the relevant AC CFTSU to the COMDT NZCF and will only be approved in exceptional circumstances eg, a MCDT or CDTU/O is awaiting NZCF 1 action.
The Temporary Order issued at the end of September 2011 states that unless a cadet is an Under Officer at the age of 18, and has the "desire" to become a Commissioned Officer, then at their 18th birthday, they are to leave Cadet Forces. Anecdotal information is that the "intent" of the Order is that the cadet may see out the end of the training year once they turn 18, but that is not in the wording of the Order.
The current status quo works well, and places the responsibility on the Cadet Unit Commanders, and on the Area Commanders, to monitor the usefulness within a unit of older serving cadets, and to manage those cadets.
The immediate impact of the Order will depend on how Units apply the Order.
Some Cadet Unit Commanders have stated that the impact of losing so many of their senior cadets will be so great, that they plan to ignore the order. At the other end of the scale, one Cadet Unit Commander dismissed nine of his cadets at last years Final Parade, as they had "aged out". One Northland Unit, loses a quarter of their cadets due to the Order. They are a small unit, and compete against the local gang to recruit cadets. The loss of 4 of their senior cadets will destroy this Unit, which may very well be one of the few positive influences in the lives of the members of the Unit.
The negative impact on both the small and the large units are different, and are explained below:
For smaller units, from small towns, most Units lose significant numbers of senior cadets to Universities out of town. So the senior cadets that are left are often small in numbers, but integral to the continuation of training in those small towns, and vital for the Cadet Unit Commanders. Last year, an Army Cadet Corps Unit lost four of their senior cadets to the New Zealand Army. In itself, it is a significant achievement that they are developing such good cadets, but then to lose what's left of their senior cadets to an arbitrary Order, without consultation, will decimate that Unit, and many like it.
With regard to larger urban units, they have so many cadets, that the promotion courses available are not sufficient for the numbers of cadets now attracted to the New Zealand Cadet Forces. Yet under the new Order, cadets may only be recruited no older than 13.4 in order for them to meet all of the promotional requirements to be an Under Officer by the time they are 18 (see spreadsheet below). With regard to at least the Northern Area, as of this term, upper age limits were applied to the promotion courses, after the cadets had applied for them, thereby preventing a number of cadets from ever being eligible for promotion, so therefore creating a situation where even more cadets will age out without having ever reached the required rank.
It is difficult to express in words the limitations on a cadets training that will occur in order to churn them through promotions, in order not to lose them. Whereas now units have the luxury of time for a cadet to attend skills/flying camps, outdoor leader camps, and the promotional courses. Under the Order, cadets will only be able to attend promotional courses, because if they miss one, they will age out. But it is worse in larger units, primarily in Auckland, and to some degree in Christchurch, where strong units will often only get two, maybe three, cadets on any of the promotional courses. So cadets will age out through no fault of their own due to lack of space on promotional courses.
The availability of courses in the Northern Area is a separate issue, but worthy of further consideration and discussion at a later date.
An additional note is that the Order will make it almost impossible for cadets to to attain the NZQA Unit Standards required for the Certificate in Foundation Studies (NZCF), which is a qualification NZCF HQ have been working on for many years, at some considerable cost.
Additional Impact of Order - Competitions
In addition to lowering the upper age limit for cadets, Under Officers/Master Cadets, are now forbidden under the Temporary Order to compete in any national or international competitions.
Often the involvement in the Shooting Team, Drill Team, or Skills Team, is the glue that holds a Unit together. And those teams are often the only teams those teenagers are involved with.
In an environment where childhood obesity, computer gaming and antisocial teenage behaviour is so often in the media, here are a raft of competitions which require skill, discipline and team cohesiveness, and which don't involve alcohol, bullying, or sponsorship from a fast food outlet. And yet hundreds of senior cadets, the mentors for the other three thousand (4,000) cadets, suddenly do not have an avenue to pass on their skills, their dedication, and their passion for their chosen area of expertise.
The directive under the Temporary Order goes against some of the competition rules, which we all abide by. For example, cadets have to be 19 or under to shoot in the Commonwealth Shooting Competition - Ffennell Commonwealth Shooting Shield. This is a minor concern with the Temporary Order, but for the affected Senior Cadets, it removes a lot of the enjoyment of their time, and will result in more attrition from an organisation that will be decimated by the Order.
We are advised that the reasoning behind the Temporary Order was to ensure that the NZCF was a Youth Organisation. But New Zealand legislation has a variety of interpretations of what constitutes a youth.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs advises “The Ministry of Youth Development – Te Manatu Whakahiato Taiohi – promotes the interests of young people aged between 12 and 24 years old. We encourage and assist young people to be involved in the social, educational, economic and cultural development of New Zealand”. And the Interpretation Act 1999 does not define a youth, a child or a young person. Additionally there are conflicting definitions in the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989 and the Care of Children Act 2004.
Even Scouting New Zealand has members aged between 6 - 26 years. And they are certainly perceived as a youth organisation despite their upper age limit.
Currently the DFO7/Policy and Administration Manual allows cadets to be recruited at the ages of 13,14 and 15. No unit will continue to recruit 15 year old cadets, as those cadets will never be able to progress past the rank of Corporal (or even cadet if they can't get on promotion courses) due to the restrictions around promotional requirements - numbers of parade nights, courses attended etc. And under any piece of New Zealand legislation, a 15 year old is still a youth, yet the Order makes it impossible for us to adequately train those youth before expelling them out of this unique and amazing organisation.
There are sufficient procedures in place in the current DFO7/PAM to ensure that the older cadets who are not headed towards a Cadet Forces Commission, are managed out. There seems to be no justification for the change in the age limits.
Progression to Commissioned Officers from the Cadet Ranks
Paragraph 6 of the Order states that currently only 23% of Commissioned Officers come directly from the cadet ranks, and that the changes made via the Temporary Order will address this and move it more towards 75%.
Whilst the 23% figure may be true, in reality the impact of the Order will be that scores of potential Cadet Force officers will be removed at their 18th birthday. Those cadets will, and some already have, become so disenfranchised with the Cadet Forces (since the promulgation of the order), that there is the very real potential that the figure of 23% will plummet, to the point that recruiting from within the cadet ranks will be negligible.
I understand that in the Southern Area, Under Officers are already being denied commissioning interviews due to a sudden rule change where Under Officers under the age of 21 will not be considered for promotion to Officer. There seem to be huge variances between the rules that exist and the rules that are applied and created in the three areas.
Without the buffer years of between 18-21, for some of the senior cadets to develop, finish school and start making decisions about their lives, most of our current young officers would never have attended a Commissioning Course. This is a fact. And almost every officer in the Cadet Forces will state the same.
The push through the ranks will lead to a trend to promote based on service time, rather than merit, which will only serve to devalue the non commissioned officer (NCO) ranks, and the positions that they hold. This does not develop good leaders, within the community or the armed services.
It is important to note that the DFO7 states that an Under Officer be recommended for a Commission no earlier than their 20th Birthday. In effect, cadets will be rushed through the ranks at huge pace, but without experience, then spend two years cooling their feet at the rank of Under Officer, but without the necessary experience to guide and train new cadets. This makes a mockery of everything taught on the current leadership courses we put our cadets through.
If the NZCF HQ has concerns about the number of Commissioned Officers coming direct from the ranks of cadets, their best course of action would be to raise it as a discussion point at the Unit Commander Conferences (which has been delayed) and Area Officer Update Weekends (which have been postponed several times). It is those groups who are best placed to address the imbalance between cadets who became Commissioned Officers, and parents who become Commissioned Officers. Consultation is key in a civilian organisation such as the New Zealand Cadet Forces.
I'm advised that new changes to the commissioning process will remove the requirement for an Under Officer to attend a Commissioning Course. And anecdotally we have been told that if a cadet is committed to the the NZCF they can act as a Civilian Instructor for 2-3 years, after being told to leave at the age of 18. Those cadets will not bother to stay as Civilian Instructors. There is some pride in wearing the uniform, and the associated "privileges of rank" that come with time served. So regardless of the changes to the Under Officer rank and attendance on the Commissioning Course, the numbers of cadets carrying on to ranks of Commissioned Officer will continue to shrink.
Growth of the New Zealand Cadet Forces
There are currently 103 Cadet Force in New Zealand, many in small towns, with cadet numbers at approximately 4,500, with 360 cadet officers.
In Auckland alone, cadet numbers have been growing at 5% per year for the the past 4/5 years. Those cadets who joined 5 years ago, if they all joined at 13 years, will now all be aging out under the new Order. Given that a huge number of them are "new" New Zealanders, what sort of a message are we giving to those youth that we all tried so hard to recruit and integrate into New Zealand? Those future leaders of New Zealand whose contribution to their units is still invaluable have been dismissed.
Essentially, the Order "fires" those cadets, despite their parents having signed the NZCF2 when they enrolled, which states that they may serve until they are 20 years old. A good lawyer would be able to argue that the NZCF has breached the terms and conditions of enrollment that the parents of 4,500 cadets signed.
Impact - Numbers Affected
From the Officers who have contacted me directly, I have crunched some numbers: From 11 units, 46 cadets have to leave at the end of this year. If you extrapolate that out - there are 103 Cadet units nationally, so potentially approximately 430 cadets could be affected this year alone, with even greater numbers next year. This would serve to reduce the size of Cadet Forces by almost a quarter within one year of the promulgation of this order.
And the flow on effect from cadets being forced to leave hasn't even been measured. A number of cadets are expected to leave when their friends are forced out due to the Order.
Additionally, it is the senior cadets, who have finished their exams, who have the time and the inclination to visit the Intermediate Schools, and the Year 9's at Secondary Schools, to conduct recruiting for the next year. The Officers can't, they are working. The junior cadets can't they are still at school. So removing many of the 18+ senior cadets will greatly incapacitate units who want to recruit at schools.
The impetus to rush cadets through promotions and promotional courses, where available of course, will outweigh everything else. Most Units plan their promotions at least two years in advance. The Order specifically states "with immediate effect". It is a shame for the number of both Junior and Senior NCOs who will have to leave despite many of them having planed their NZCF careers around the old promotion and age restrictions. Any cadet that misses a promotional course, thorugh exams, overseas holidays or attendance on another training course, will never have the opportunity to reach the rank of Under Officer. It is an impossibility. In order to support this statement, I have attached a spreadsheet below showing the impact on a cadet if they join at the age of 13, 14 or 15 (as those are the ages we can recruit at).
The NZCF, like the NZDF, is bound by common values that contribute to efficiency and effectiveness: loyalty, integrity, professionalism and commitment. Many of the affected cadets have had their commitment to the NZCF brushed aside, unrecognised.
The Order does a disservice to cadets potentially looking to become Under Officers and then Officers. By setting an age limit at 18 to become an Under Officer it doesn’t give an NCO adequate time within the NCO ranks to learn and gain experience that will be valuable to them later on in their NZCF career. Slow and steady progression as a cadet and NCO is the most valuable in terms of development, gaining experience and having the confidence to perform to a high standard.
Whilst the figure of 430 cadets is only a potential number, I doubt that you will be advised that there are that many cadets affected, as officers have already commented that they will be "hiding" their senior cadets, as the impact of losing them will be too huge. Many officers are concerned that they will be reprimanded for not obeying the Order.
If the drive behind the lowering of the age is to reduce the number of cadets in the NZCF, then that will be achieved this month. If the motivator is to lower the costs to the NZDF by reducing the number of cadets attending training courses and promotional courses, then that too will be achieved.
The Order will slowly decimate the numbers of cadets nationwide. The flow-on attrition from the Order will be huge, and cannot be measured.
The Order was issued without prior warning or consultation, and has irreparably harmed the esprit de corps of the whole organisation.
All units rely on their senior cadets to deliver training. Without adequate numbers of senior NCO's to deliver that training, we will cease to be a relevant youth training organisation, despite aspiring to be the best youth training organisation in New Zealand.
It is a shame that such an incredible morale building organisation stands on the cusp of irrelevancy and ineffectiveness.