Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the US military, a colonel in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps is equivalent to a captain in the Navy; the insignia for all four positions is a silver eagle (hence the slang term "bird colonel" or "full bird" to distinguish a full colonel from a lieutenant, or "light", colonel). American colonels usually command infantry brigades and USMC regiments.
In the British forces, colonels are just below brigadiers. They are not usually field commanders, instead typically serving as staff officers in between field commands at battalion and brigade level. The insignia is two diamond shaped pips (properly called stars) and a crown. The crown has varied in the past with different monarchs.
In the Confederate army during the American Civil War a colonel wore an insignia of three stars (not to be confused with the three stars in a wreath worn by Confederate generals). The rank insignia of Colonel was worn by General Robert E Lee throughout his service, even after he became overall commander of the Confederate Armies in 1865.
Colonel of the regiment
In the British Army, colonel can also refer to the ceremonial head of a regiment; this is almost always a general officer, often retired, with a close link to the regiment in question. Sometimes the post is held by a member of the Royal Family. This position is often described as colonel of the regiment to distinguish it from the rank of colonel. See this official list.
Also see colonel-in-chief.
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