What Do You Mean When You Say ‘Cadet’?


Sometimes we see the use of the name ‘cadet’ being used and it conjures up a variety of different thoughts in people’s minds. The Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force, a youth development organisation of over one hundred years most often comes to mind in Trinidad and Tobago.

We love that you always think of us when you hear the word cadet, but sometimes, people use the word in reference to other affiliated or unaffiliated organisations, and so we have decided to try to clarify what you may be hearing when you hear the word ‘cadet’.

Best Use of the Word ‘Cadet’: The Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force

This refers to us: Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force. We are a youth development organisation which uses military training administered by adult volunteers to engage citizenship, leadership and team building programs with boys and girls between the ages 12 and 19.

Our organisation was established in 1910 with infantry (army) cadets in two schools only. Over the years it has expanded to include over seventy schools with naval (coast guard/navy) cadets; aviation (air guard/air force) cadets; two military marching bands; cadet cooks & stewards; a medical corps; disaster response training; public speaking; media and communications training and even a new program offering Bachelors and Masters degrees and BTEC certification for regular Cadet Force activities.

Cadet Force Adults & Cadet Force Officers

Our adult volunteer administrators and trainers are collectively referred to ‘Cadet Force Adults’ or ‘Adults’ in short. Some hold a Commission and are called ‘Cadet Force Officers’ and others are known by their ranks, whether they are ‘Warrant Officers’; ‘Adult Sergeants’ or ‘Adult Trainees’ (undergoing training to become Cadet Force Adults).

At the Ministry of National Security, the ‘Cadet Force Division’ is our Secretariat, at which public servants are tasked with a number of administrative and logistical roles to support the organisation. The Cadet Force Division is led by the ‘Cadet Force Officer’ currently held by an officer of the rank of Captain.

These titles confirm the dichotomy of the organisation, in that our main focus, the young person, the ‘cadet’ is distinguished from the ‘adult’.

(Defence Force) Officer Cadet: Trainee Aspiring to be a Defence Force Officer

‘Officer Cadet’ is a training rank in all arms of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force who is undergoing a program to become a Commissioned Officer. To remove the word ‘Officer’ and simply say ‘Cadet’ is to remove the essence of the title – and to give room for your reference to be misconstrued.

Trainees bearing the rank Officer Cadet are found in the Regiment, Coast Guard and Air Guard.

Some Other Organisations Call Their Students & Trainees ‘Cadets’

While we generally lay claim to the title ‘cadet’, a number of other organisations use the title to refer to their trainees, or in the title of their organisation. Here we will name a few:

  • MILAT Military Academy refers to its trainees as ‘cadets’. According to their Facebook page, they describe themselves as: “…a full time, residential, 3 year programme designed to help young men attain academic certification and character development…”
  • MyPART also calls its students a ‘cadets’. MyPART is “…a residential three-year programme which acts as a form of social intervention and involves Military and Vocational Training.”
  • PETROTRIN Cadet Corps is a small marching band which is now sponsored by Petrotrin which describes itself as “…a Non Profit Organization here to help youths [sic] prepare for a better future.”


The word ‘cadet’ means trainee, and so many organisations may use the word in various ways. We in the Cadet Force are very passionate about our organisation and it’s brand integrity. We want you to know about the good work we do, about our people (especially our young people) and the successes of our work.

We hope that in this article we were able to share how the word may be incorrectly attributed to us at times, and the importance of disambiguation in the stories we hear and tell, and particularly in the media.

As reports are published about cadet successes, we hope that the media recognises us as ‘cadets’ or the ‘Cadet Force’, and identify others by their own organisational titles. Knowing that this may not always occur, our hope is that our stakeholders can understand the difference between us and others, as we continue to build our organisation for our young people, and our young people for the future.


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