Forming highly disciplined, well trained core units within a society, organization or movement. This involves enlisting, organizing, training, forming, supporting and coordinating groups of people around which larger action units can be built when needed. Support includes care of the groups' morale, self-understanding and symbol system.
The word "cadre" was first used in its present sense by the French army to refer to the permanent, professional nucleus of officers of a military unit around which a full unit could be quickly built at need. It was adopted by the Socialist movements to signify a hard core of trained revolutionary militants around which larger action units could later be built. The basic strategic approach, however, can be seen in the formation and deployment of Confucian Scholars in China in the 4th century BC, the cell-like organization of the early Christian Church, as well as in the organization of Pyramidal distributorships of USA commercialism over the last 3 decades.
Organizing cadres has historically been used both by established powers and by revolutionary movements. When used by established powers it is used to launch a new direction in social change (as through leadership cadres, the self-criticism groups of revolutionary China, or the Quality Circles of Japanese industry) and to reinforce the established values of society. In this case their existence is often highly publicized and membership in these elite cadres is promoted as a worthy ambition. When used by revolutionary and resistance movements, an effort is made to keep their existence and membership secret so as to avoid repression and elimination. In this case forming and training activities are carried on in a clandestine fashion. In both cases, considerable effort is given to symbols and rites of identification and purpose, both to strengthen the internal bond of the cadre members and to link each cadre to the general aims of the movement.
Operations which require secrecy (as the Resistance in World War II) and long-term dedication to a purpose (as in national liberation movements) are very well served by a cadre form of organization.
Because of their extensive training and usually tight discipline, cadre organization can easily become inward-turned and elitist, creating suspicion, mistrust and unnecessary resistance to the general aims of the movement. In its extreme, the cadre can subvert the call for action by accentuating its isolation and refusing to be "diluted" by the inclusion of others lacking their training, discipline and ideological commitment.