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Colonel
Colonel
(abbreviated Col., Col or COL and pronounced /ˈkɜːrnəl/, similar to "kernel") is a senior military officer rank below the general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Iceland
Iceland
or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations. Historically, in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a colonel was typically in charge of a regiment in an army. Modern usage varies greatly, and in some cases the term is used as an honorific title that may have no direct relationship to military service. The rank of colonel is typically above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank above colonel is typically called brigadier, brigade general or brigadier general. Equivalent naval ranks may be called captain or ship-of-the-line captain. In the Commonwealth air force rank system, the equivalent rank is group captain.

Contents

1 History and origins

1.1 Colonel-in-chief 1.2 Colonel
Colonel
of the Regiment

2 Colonel
Colonel
and equivalent ranks by country

2.1 Colonel
Colonel
in individual military forces

2.1.1 North and South American equivalent ranks 2.1.2 European equivalent ranks 2.1.3 Arab ranks 2.1.4 Asian equivalent ranks

2.1.4.1 Turkish and Ottoman ranks

2.1.5 African equivalent ranks

2.2 Gallery

2.2.1 Army
Army
colonels 2.2.2 Air force colonels 2.2.3 Naval infantry colonels

3 Colonel
Colonel
as highest-ranking officer 4 Other uses of colonel ranks 5 See also 6 References

6.1 Notes 6.2 Bibliography

History and origins[edit]

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The word "colonel" derives from the same root as the word "column" (Italian: colonna) and means "of a column", and, by implication, "commander of a column". The word "colonel" is therefore linked to the word "column" in a similar way that "brigadier" is linked to "brigade", although in English this relationship is not immediately obvious. By the end of the late medieval period, a group of "companies" was referred to as a "column" of an army. Since the word is believed to derive from sixteenth-century Italian, it was presumably first used by Italian city states in that century. The first use of colonel as a rank in a national army was in the French "National Legions" (Légions nationales) created by King Francis I by his decree of 1534. Building on the military reforms of Louis XII's decree of 1509, he modernized the organization of the French royal army. Each colonel commanded a legion with a theoretical strength of six thousand men. With the shift from primarily mercenary to primarily national armies in the course of the seventeenth century, a colonel (normally a member of the aristocracy) became a holder (German Inhaber) or proprietor of a military contract with a sovereign. The colonel purchased the regimental contract — the right to hold the regiment — from the previous holder of that right or directly from the sovereign when a new regiment was formed or an incumbent was killed.[citation needed] The Spanish equivalent rank of coronel was used by the Spanish tercios in the 16th and 17th centuries. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, nicknamed 'the Great Captain', divided his armies in 'coronelías' or colonelcies, each led by a coronel (colonel).[1] However, the Spanish word probably derives from a different origin, in that it appears to designate an officer of the crown (corona, thus the rank coronel), rather than an officer of the column (columna, which would give the word columnal). This makes the Spanish word coronel probably cognate with the English word "coroner". As the office of colonel became an established practice, the colonel became the senior captain in a group of companies that were all sworn to observe his personal authority — to be ruled or regimented by him. This regiment, or governance, was to some extent embodied in a contract and set of written rules, also referred to as the colonel's regiment or standing regulation(s). By extension, the group of companies subject to a colonel's regiment (in the foregoing sense) came to be referred to as his regiment (in the modern sense) as well. In French usage of this period, the senior colonel in the army or, in a field force, the senior military contractor, was the colonel general and, in the absence of the sovereign or his designate, the colonel general might serve as the commander of a force. The position, however, was primarily contractual and it became progressively more of a functionless sinecure. (The head of a single regiment or demi-brigade would be called a 'mestre de camp' or, after the Revolution, a 'chef de brigade'.) By the late 19th century, colonel was a professional military rank though still held typically by an officer in command of a regiment or equivalent unit. Along with other ranks, it has become progressively more a matter of ranked duties, qualifications and experience and of corresponding titles and pay scale than of functional office in a particular organization. As European military influence expanded throughout the world, the rank of colonel became adopted by nearly every nation (albeit under a variety of names). With the rise of communism, some of the large communist militaries saw fit to expand the colonel rank into several grades, resulting in the unique senior colonel rank, which was found and is still used in such nations as China
China
and North Korea. Colonel-in-chief[edit] Main article: Colonel-in-chief In many modern armies, the 'regiment' has more importance as a ceremonial unit or a focus of members' loyalty than as an actual battle formation. Troops tend to be deployed in 'battalions' (commanded by a lieutenant colonel) as a more convenient size of military unit and, as such, colonels have tended to have a higher profile in specialist and command roles than as actual commanders of regiments. However, in Commonwealth armies, the position of the colonel as the figurehead of a regiment is maintained in the honorary role of "colonel-in-chief", usually held by a member of the royal family,[2] the nobility, or a retired senior military officer. The colonel-in-chief wears a colonel's uniform and encourages the members of the regiment, but takes no active part in the actual command structure or in any operational duties.[3] Colonel
Colonel
of the Regiment[edit] The title Colonel
Colonel
of the Regiment
Regiment
(to distinguish it from the military rank of colonel) continues to be used in the modern British Army. The ceremonial position is often conferred on retired general officers, brigadiers or colonels who have a close link to a particular regiment. Non-military personnel, usually for positions within the Army
Army
Reserve may also be appointed to the ceremonial position. When attending functions as " Colonel
Colonel
of the Regiment", the titleholder wears the regimental uniform with rank insignia of (full) colonel, regardless of their official rank. A member of the Royal Family
Royal Family
is known as a Royal Colonel. A Colonel
Colonel
of the Regiment
Regiment
is expected to work closely with a regiment and its Regimental Association. Colonel
Colonel
and equivalent ranks by country[edit] Colonel
Colonel
in individual military forces[edit] The following articles deal with the rank of colonel as it is used in various national militaries. North and South American equivalent ranks[edit]

Colonel
Colonel
(Canada) Colonel
Colonel
(United States) Coronel (Brazil and Hispanic America)

European equivalent ranks[edit]

Colonel
Colonel
or Kolonel (Albania, Armenia: Gndapet (գնդապետ), Belgium, France, Estonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, United Kingdom) Colonnello (Italy and Switzerland) Kurunell (Malta) Coirnéal (Ireland) Coronel (Portugal and Spain) Eversti or Överste (Finland and Sweden) Oberst
Oberst
(Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Switzerland) Ofursti (Iceland) Ezredes (Hungary – literally means "leader of a thousand" (i.e. of a regiment)) Syntagmatarchis (Συνταγματάρχης) (Greece).

Since the 16th century, the rank of regimental commander was adopted by several Central and Eastern European armies, most notably the forces of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Cossacks and then Muscovy. In countries with Slavic and Baltic languages, the exact name of the rank maintains a variety of spellings, all descendant from the Old Slavonic word plk or polk meaning unit of standing army (see The Tale of Igor's Campaign), and include the following:

Plukovník: Czech Republic
Czech Republic
and Slovakia Polkovnik, Polkovnyk
Polkovnyk
or Palkounik: Belarus, Bulgaria, Russia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Ukraine Pukovnik: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia Pulkvedis: Latvia Pulkininkas: Lithuania Pułkownik: Poland

Other countries have adopted the rank and spelling when they became part of the Russian Empire and later Soviet Union including following:

პოლკოვნიკი (Polkovniki) Georgia.

Arab ranks[edit] There are two common Arab ranks relevant to the English word "colonel":

The Arabic word for "colonel" is عميد (ʿamīd) which comes from the same triconsonantal root as عمود (ʿamūd) meaning "column". Both words come from the root ʿ-m-d, column in the sense of "pillar" (عَمَد). This relationship is comparable to that "colonel" and "column" are cognates with Latin columna as common ancestor. In terms of equivalence, the Arabic colonel, ʿamīd, is conventionally considered to be equivalent to the Commonwealth rank of brigadier. It is the rank of عقيد (ʿaqīd), which is conventionally considered equivalent to the Commonwealth rank of colonel. The word ʿaqīd is linked to عقد (ʿaqad), meaning a contract, covenant or pact. In its original literal meaning, ʿaqīd means a man who has entered into a contract, pact or covenant.

In addition, a non-Arab colonel is often referred to as "kūlūnīl" (كولونيل). In the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman ranks miralay and qaimaqam were formerly used instead of the current Arab ranks ʿamīd and ʿaqīd. Asian equivalent ranks[edit]

 Afghanistan: Dagarwal (دګروال)  Bangladesh: Colonel
Colonel
(কর্নেল)  Cambodia: Lok Vorakseni Ek (លោកវរសេនីយ៍ឯក)  China: Shangxiao(上校)  India: Colonel
Colonel
(India)  Indonesia: Kolonel  Iran: Sarhang (سرهنگ)  Israel: Aluf Mishne (אלוף משנה)    Nepal: Colonel
Colonel
(महा सेनानी)  North Korea: Sangchwa  Philippines: Lakan (Filipino), Coronel (Spanish)  South Korea: Daeryong (대령; 大領)  Taiwan:Shangxiao  Thailand Nai Phan (TH: นายพัน) Chief of 1,000

Phan Ek (TH: พันเอก) First of 1,000: Colonel Phan Tho (TH: พันโท) Second of 1,000: Lieutenant
Lieutenant
colonel

 Pakistan: Colonel
Colonel
(Pakistan)  Viet Nam: Thượng tá

Turkish and Ottoman ranks[edit] The Ottomans used a rank of "column chief", which was "kol ağa", from kol (column in Turkish) and ağa (chief in Turkish). However, in authority, this was more equivalent to a European major. The Ottoman army rank of "lieutenant governor" (kaymakam) was equivalent in authority to a European colonel. Kol ağa is no longer used. The word for a regiment, alay, can also mean a procession, or be loosely translated as a column of men. Alay was in the Ottoman army rank miralay ("regimental emir") and the Ottoman gendarmerie rank alaybeyi ("regimental bey"). These Ottoman ranks were equivalent to European brigade commanders. The modern Turkish Army
Army
uses the rank of albay as its colonel rank (NATO rank OF-5). This is a contraction of the older Turkish word alaybeyi. African equivalent ranks[edit]

Colonel
Colonel
( Central African Republic,  Ghana,  Guinea,  Ivory Coast,  Kenya,  Liberia,  Mali,  Nigeria,  Senegal,  South Africa,  Zambia) and Coronel ( Angola,  Cape Verde,  Equatorial Guinea,  Guinea-Bissau,  Mozambique and  São Tomé and Príncipe) Aqid (عقيد) ( Libya,  Morocco,  Tunisia and  Sudan)

Gallery[edit] Army
Army
colonels[edit]

Afghanistan (Dagarwal)

Australia

Bangladesh

Belgium

Brazil (Coronel)

Canada

Chile (Coronel)

China
China
(Shang Xiao, 上校)

Colombia (Coronel)

Czech Republic
Czech Republic
(Plukovník)

Dominican Republic

Finland (Eversti)

France

French Forests Office

Georgia (პოლკოვნიკი, Polkovnik)

Bundeswehr Germany (Oberst)

Greece (Syntagmatarchis)

Hungary (Ezredes)

India

Indonesia

Iran (Sarhang, سرهنگ)

Ireland

Israel

Italy (Colonnello)

Macedonia (полковник, polkovnik)

Monaco
Monaco
(Colonel)

Netherlands (Kolonel)

Pakistan

Poland (Pułkownik)

Portugal (Coronel)

Romanian Land Forces

Romanian Paratroopers

Syrian Arab Army (Arabic: عقيد)

Soviet Union ( Polkovnik
Polkovnik
/ Полковник)

Sri Lanka

Sweden (Överste)

Taiwan (Shang Xiao)

Thailand

Turkey

United Kingdom

United States

United States

United States (April 1861 to May 1865)

United States (September 1959 to October 2015)

Vietnam (Thượng tá)

Air force colonels[edit]

Belgium

Brazil (Coronel)

Canada

Chile (Coronel)

Denmark (Oberst)

France

Georgia (პოლკოვნიკი, Polkovnik)

Germany (Oberst)

Indonesia (Kolonel)

Iran (Sarhang, سرهنگ)

Israel ( Aluf Mishne)

Italy (Colonnello)

Netherlands (Kolonel)

Poland (Pułkownik)

Portugal (Coronel)

Spain (Coronel)

Sweden (Överste)

United States

United States

Vietnam (Thượng tá)

Naval infantry colonels[edit]

Brazil (Capitão de Mar e Guerra)

Indonesian Marine

Israel

United Kingdom

United States

United States

Colonel
Colonel
as highest-ranking officer[edit] Some military forces have a colonel as their highest-ranking officer, with no 'general' ranks, and no superior authority (except, perhaps, the head of state as a titular commander-in-chief) other than the respective national government. Examples include the following (arranged alphabetically by country name):

Antigua and Barbuda (170 personnel) Costa Rica (about 8,000 personnel) Iceland
Iceland
(100 personnel, employed only for peacekeeping duties) Libya
Libya
(commands all the Armed Forces - Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
until 2011) Monaco
Monaco
(two branches, with a total of about 250 personnel) Suriname (1,800 personnel) Vatican City
Vatican City
State (110 personnel - the Swiss Guard)

Rank insignia for a colonel in several nations which have no higher military rank

 Iceland  Monaco   Vatican City

Colonel
Colonel
CCP Colonel
Colonel
CSP

Other uses of colonel ranks[edit] Further information: Colonel
Colonel
(other) The term colonel is also used as a title for auctioneers in the United States; there are a variety of theories or folk etymologies to explain the use of the term.[4] One of these is the claim that during the American Civil War
American Civil War
goods seized by armies were sold at auction by the colonel of the division.[5] Kentucky colonel
Kentucky colonel
is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. The sitting governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Commonwealth of Kentucky
bestows the honor of a colonel's Commission, by issuance of letters patent. Perhaps the best known Kentucky colonel is Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. The rank of colonel is also used by some military police forces such as Military Police
Police
(Brazil), the Carabineros de Chile
Carabineros de Chile
and the French National Gendarmerie. The Police
Police
of Russia, being a paramilitary organization, also uses this rank.

Brazil (Coronel)

Chile (Coronel)

French Nationale Gendarmerie (Colonel)

Russian MVD Police
Police
(Polkovnik)

See also[edit]

List of comparative military ranks

References[edit] Notes[edit]

^ Los tercios españoles. La batalla de Pavía at militar.org.ua (in Spanish, unspecified authorship) ^ See this list of colonel-in-chief appointments held by HRH The Prince of Wales. ^ A webpage by a Scottish regiment concerning their colonel-in-chief. Archived 2007-12-19 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Leab, Daniel J.; Leab, Katharine Kyes (29 December 1981). "The auction companion". Harper & Row – via Google Books.  ^ Doyle, Robert A.; Baska, Steve (November 2002), "History of Auctions: From ancient Rome to todays high-tech auctions", Auctioneer, archived from the original on May 17, 2008, retrieved 2008-06-22 

Bibliography[edit]

Keegan, John; & Wheatcroft, Andrew (1996). Who's Who in Military History: From 1453 to the Present Day. London: Routledge.

Authority control

.