Each year the Ministry of Defence (MOD) runs a Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC) for those officers it has identified as the most talented and who are expected to reach senior rank.
Most attendees are OF-5 and a few are OF-6.
Retention rates for graduates of the HCSC were:
- 2007-2011: 25% had left the armed forces.
- 2012-2016: 14% had left the armed forces.
Research suggests that a substantial proportion of Royal Navy and British Army officers identified as the most talented go on to serve a full career. In contrast, substantially fewer Royal Air Force (RAF) officers go on to serve a full career.