Many thanks for a comprehensive reply. I can see the logic of the system, but still have some reservations regarding both its purpose and suitability. Without going into huge length, I really don't see how re-labelling an FF/DD Command and giving out some additional (albeit significant) duties in any way approximates to Formation Command. I've served within the FF/DD Fleet (if it can still be called that!) as well as within both 3 Cdo Bde and 16AA; by my experience the difference is enormous. Not only is the Brigade Commander already a substantive 1* versus an OF5 but the scale of operations really is on a different level. I'd go as far as to say that even Capital Ship Command most closely approximates to a Combined Arms Battlegroup Command (600-1000 pax) rather than a full Brigade Command (circa 4k)- both in terms of numbers and in terms of scope of activity.
Of course, we are now entering the post Herrick era and so the Army will probably be forced to adjust its sights in terms of viewing Formation Command as a pre-requisite for the jobs at the top of the tree. Moreover, I'd be interested in seeing how the light blue element seem to do so well in getting jobs at the higher levels of Defence, especially given that they don't really have much in the way of Command experience which might approximate Formation Command- the only ones I can really think of are EAW Commands and the soon to be defunct JAG.
Lastly, I think that your observations regarding sea and dry lists are spot on the money. Given the rate at which we have shrunk (and continue to shrink) I don't think that FF/DD Command is a realistic prospect for the vast majority of X Officers today. How the Navy reacts to this will be key- if they continue to insist that the only way to a full 'x' career is OOW-PWO-CQ2 then they will probably find a lot of people leaving earlier than they might have done on the basis that a failure to achieve Command is a virtual bar to any meaningful forward progress. If the Navy is able to take the view point that not seeking or even not achieving Command is not terminal, then people might just be inclined to stay with the prospect of some progress. Whatever happens, it is clear that we live in interesting times; the NEM will definitely be worth a read when it appears!
Have you ever seen a 1* Job Spec? It simply has a series of boxes that say 'qualification' and 'desirability'. Formation Command has no set requirement, indeed, HCSC is a perfectly valid substitute. Now, there is an obvious requirement for 'credibility' in the role you are going for; indeed, looking a recent 3 Cdo Bde Commanders gives you an indication of some of the Joint Jobs we are going for. I think the Naval Service's big hope in the Joint Arena for the next couple of turns of the handle will be RMs, whereas the RN is concentrating on NATO in several interesting areas.