RAF cadets told to stop saying 'marksmen' amid woke rebrand

RAF cadets told to stop saying 'marksmen' amid woke rebrand

This is just the latest woke row to hit the armed forces, with the Defence Secretary announcing a crackdown this year

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 28/02/2024

- 17:25

Updated: 29/02/2024

- 14:53

The move was slammed as a ‘PR stunt’ by one instructor

The Royal Air Force Air Cadets (Rafac) have been slammed as “over-sensitive” after pushing a “gender-neutral” crackdown on the word ‘marksman’.

Cadets in their teens and adult instructors alike have been told to stop using the gendered term, which has been in use since the mid-1600s, in the names of shooting badges which skilled cadets can earn.

An internal Rafac memo read: “The new nomenclature is gender-neutral; the terms ‘marksman’ and ‘marksmanship’ must not feature when referring to the new shooting badges.”

A Rafac spokesperson said: “Our priority is providing safe and effective training to support the development of our air cadets… Any change in language has had no impact on this training.”

Grant Shapps and air cadets

The guidance is just the latest instance in an ongoing military woke row


One cadets instructor said: “What gets me is that they’re putting these new changes on social media, which to me looks like they’re doing it as a PR stunt as they never normally publish badge amendments on socials.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, who also reported on the Rafac memo, the experienced instructor said he thought the rebrand was only made to make some senior staff look good.

While Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Great women shots like Annie Oakley have always been complimented on their marksmanship.

“In the absence of anyone actually being upset by the description, it looks as though the Air Cadets are being over-sensitive.”


Prince and Princess of Wales with air cadets

The then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met Rafac members in 2021


This is not the first instance of the RAF modifying their internal language for inclusivity reasons – in 2021, it shelved “airman” and “airwoman” in favour of “aviator”, and renamed “aircraftman” to the neutral “air specialist”.

The renaming is just the latest development in an ongoing ‘woke’ row between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and its head, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.

He said that time and effort were being “squandered to promote a political agenda” within the department in a scathing attack earlier this year.

Shapps even launched a formal review into diversity policies throughout the MoD in order to investigate how widespread they were.

He said woke culture was “pitting individuals against each other, when what we need is a common set of values which delivers the military we need to defend us and our allies”.

He continued: “This extremist culture has infiltrated public life over years and it is time for a proper shake-up, designed to refocus the military on its core mission – being a lethal fighting force.”

His comments came after General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, said last year he was being “deadly serious” in his desire to change rank names in the military to be more gender inclusive.

Elsewhere in the forces, the navy announced in 2022 it was ditching “gendered language” by dropping the word “unmanned” for “uncrewed”.

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