Colonel (United States)

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force, colonel (/ˈkɜːrnəl/) is the most senior field-grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services.[note 1] By law, an officer previously required at least 22 years of cumulative service and a minimum of three years as a lieutenant colonel before being promoted to colonel.[1] With the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (NDAA 2019), military services now have the authorization to directly commission new officers up to the rank of colonel.[2] The pay grade for colonel is O-6.

Colonel
Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force insignia of the rank of colonel. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.
Country United States
Service branch
AbbreviationCOL, Col
RankColonel
NATO rank codeOF-5
Non-NATO rankO-6
Next higher rankBrigadier general
Next lower rankLieutenant colonel
Equivalent ranks
U.S. Army dress blue insignia of the rank of colonel in the Infantry branch. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.
U.S. Marine Corps insignia of the rank of colonel. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.
U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force insignia of the rank of colonel. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.
U.S. Army "Class A" insignia of the rank of colonel, used from September 1959 to October 2015.
Subdued insignia as worn on the current USMC Combat Utility Uniform and previously worn on the former Desert Camouflage Uniform and Battle Dress Uniform.

When worn alone, the insignia of rank seen at right is worn centered on headgear and fatigue uniforms. When worn in pairs, the insignia is worn on the officer's left side while a mirror-image reverse version is worn on the right side, such that both of the eagles' heads face forward, to the wearer's front.


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