A force for good born out of the threat from invasion

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The Independent Online
Cadet forces began to form part of the national service in the 1860s when the British were under danger of invasion from Napoleon III. When the threat disappeared the units continued as they supposedly kept boys out of trouble and off the streets, writes David Garfinkel.

Under the 1908 Haldane scheme, public schools and universities were asked to contribute to the OTC, Officers' Training Corps, with the aim of having a trained reserve of officers. After the First World War a reduction of grants and recognition saw numbers dwindle to around 1,300, and only the devotion of a few individuals kept the force alive.

During the Second World War the OTC was abandoned and in 1948 replaced by the Combined Cadet Force and University Training Corp. The CCF initially consisted of 54,000 members across all the forces.

The modern force aims to provide youngsters aged between 14 and 18 with the qualities of leadership, endurance and a sense of public service. It attempts to install a sense of maturity - rather than military training.

Today the CCF operates in 198 private schools and 45 state schools. There are 39,735 participants with 2,048 instructors who are generally teachers.