Each year, HQ Air cadets run the challenging Junior Leaders course, which aims to develop leadership qualities amongst senior cadets, using military skills. It is widely considered to be one of the most demanding and highly competitive courses in the entire Corps. The most recent course saw seven cadets from across London and South East Region successfully graduate from the Test Phase. The proud cadets all earned the coveted maroon lanyard.

Cadets on Junior Leaders practice a wide range of military skills.

JL 18 graduates from LASER

This year, seven LASER cadets successfully completed the course.

Sgt Ackermann Liam 1454 Middlesex
Sgt Bridel Callum 2158 Kent
Sgt Hunt Thomas 114 Middlesex
Cpl Miah Harun 31 London
FS Mushekwa Vuyani 1039 Kent
FS Smith Samuel 1140 Sussex
Sgt Weaver Leonard 1440 Sussex

FS Miah from 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron. pictured during the demanding Test Phase of the course.

View from the inside

By Sgt. Callum Bridel, 2158 (Sevenoaks) Squadron

I applied for the course because of its prestigious reputation. I’ve always looked for a way as an NCO to better my leadership skills. After listening to a presentation from an older QJL (qualified Junior Leader), the course seemed like the best way to do this.

I have also had an interest in fieldcraft after doing two Kent Wing Invicta Leader Camps and the course was the only thing that would develop these skills further. I love to constantly challenge and push myself further than I think that I am capable of. And the Junior Leaders Course did that.

The most enjoyable part of the course was test phase, which was also one of the hardest parts of the course. After spending a long time training and building up to test phase it was good to finally get there and enjoy it for what it was. My section and I definitely bonded much more on test than any other time on the course and I am sure I have made some lifelong friends. On test we were constantly kept moving, going out on patrol and putting into practice properly all the skills and drills we had learnt and this was the most enjoyable part.

Challenges and triumphs

The hardest part was pre-deployment training; because of the amount of training and patrols we had to squeeze into a short weekend everyone was exhausted, and then due to the lack of manpower in my section we had less than 4 hours sleep each night because stag has to be manned by two people at all times.If you are thinking of applying make sure your physical ability is good enough to ace the RAF fitness test. This will be essential during the later phases of the course and needed to pass selection. Practice navigation until you are on top form! This is core skill that will be tested at all times including selection. Rehearse leadership exercises on squadron until SMEAC is second nature. And be switched on, if you slack off you will be picked up on it. Make sure you are aware of what’s going on at all times.

At the end of test phase I felt a mixture of elation, pride and disappointment. Elation at getting through the demanding test phase in one piece, pride at completing the course and earning the right to be called a Junior Leader, and disappointment as I realised that I will most likely never see my mates on the course again and that I probably wont get to do the things that the course facilitates until I join the forces.

How to apply for Junior Leaders

Applications are now open – more details are available on Sharepoint. Cadets should speak to their squadron staff for more information.

Junior Leaders 18 course graduates were the first to receive the new Gold Leadership Badge. CWO Vuyani Mushekwa from 1039 (Gillingham) Squadron, Kent Wing, was the first student to be awarded his badge.