Colonel (Canada)

In the Canadian Forces, the rank of colonel (Col) (French: colonel, col) is a rank for officers who wear army or air force uniform, equal to a captain for officers who wear navy uniform. A colonel is the highest rank of senior officer. A colonel is senior to a lieutenant-colonel or naval commander, and junior to a brigadier-general or commodore.

Typical appointments for colonels include:

The rank insignia for air force uniform is four 12-inch (1.3 cm) stripes, worn on the cuffs of the service dress jacket, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. The insignia for army uniform is two stars and a crown. The insignia worn on the headdress for an army colonel is the crest of the Canadian coat of arms: a crowned gold lion with a maple leaf in its paw standing on a red-and-white wreath, all beneath the royal crown; the collar insignia is two crossed sabres. Some colonels, by nature of holding a specific appointment, may continue to wear the insignia of their personnel branch or regiment; for example, the honorary colonel of an infantry regiment. Air force colonels wear the badge of their personnel branch (most often the Air Operations Branch) on their headdress.

Colonels are addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am".

Before unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, rank structure and insignia followed the British pattern.


Dress uniform tunic


Uniform shirts


Olive green uniform (old insignia)

CADPAT temperate Col

CADPAT uniform (old insignia)

CADPAT arid Col

Arid-region CADPAT uniform (old insignia)

CDN-Air Force-Colonel (OF5)-2015

Dress uniform tunic

Air Force slip-on Col

Uniform shirts (old insignia)

Air Force olive Col

CADPAT uniform

Army insignia
CDN-Air Force-Colonel (OF5)-2015
Air force insignia
Service branch
NATO rankOF-5
Next higher rankBrigadier-General (Canada)
Next lower rankLieutenant-colonel (Canada)
Equivalent ranksCaptain (Canadian naval rank)
Related articles

Honorary ranks and appointments

There are also several honorary ranks and appointments associated with the rank of colonel, or containing the word "colonel" in their title.

Personnel holding these honorary ranks are not part of the military operational chain of command. Rather, they serve in a ceremonial manner, often as a guest of honour at parades, mess dinners, or at other military traditions such as during Remembrance Day. Usually, honorary ranks are filled by people who have had a prior association with the battalion, regiment, or squadron they represent. Princess Patricia of Connaught was the colonel-in-chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, one of the most decorated infantry regiments in the Canadian Forces (CF). An honorary colonel of a CF flying or air maintenance squadron may be a past commanding officer of that squadron (who has since retired from active duty), or an air ace during the war.


Colonel ( "kernel"; abbreviated Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco 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.

Lieutenant-colonel (Canada)

Please see "lieutenant colonel" for other countries which use this rankIn the Canadian Forces, lieutenant-colonel (LCol, French: lieutenant-colonel or lcol) is a rank for officers who are in the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force, equal to commander for officers who are in the Royal Canadian Navy. A lieutenant-colonel is the second-highest rank of senior officer. A lieutenant-colonel is senior to a major or lieutenant-commander, and junior to a colonel or naval captain.

The rank insignia for a lieutenant-colonel on air force uniforms is three 1 cm stripes of braid, worn on the cuffs of the service-dress jacket, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. On army uniforms, the rank insignia is one pip and a crown.

Lieutenant-colonels are addressed by rank and name and thereafter by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am".

In the Canadian Army, lieutenant-colonels are often employed as commanding officers of battalion-sized groups, such as infantry battalions, armoured regiments, artillery field regiments, engineer field regiments, signal regiments, field ambulances and service battalions.

In the Royal Canadian Air Force, lieutenant-colonels are often seen as the commanding officer of flying or ground squadrons.

Note: Before unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, rank structure and insignia followed the British pattern.

Army uniform variations

Air force uniform variations

Lieutenant colonel

Lieutenant colonel (pronounced Lef-ten-ent Kernel (UK & Commonwealth) or Loo-ten-ent Kernel (US)) is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies, most marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence. Sometimes, the term, 'half-colonel' is used in casual conversation in the British Army. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion in the army.

United Nations Truce Supervision Organization

The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is an organization founded on 29 May 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peace keeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peace keepers to observe and maintain the cease-fire, and as may be necessary in assisting the parties to the Armistice Agreements in the supervision of the application and observance of the terms of those Agreements. The command structure of the UNTSO was maintained to cover the later peace keeper organisations of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

William Osborne Smith

Lieutenant-Colonel William Osborne Smith (1833 – 11 May 1887) served as the first Acting Commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police, from 25 September to 17 October 1873.

Osborne Smith was born to W. H. Smith of Hendreowen (West Glamorgan), Wales. He was commissioned into the British Army's 39th Foot in 1855. He served in the Crimea and came to Canada with his regiment in 1856. He married Janet Colquhoun of Montreal in 1858. When his unit was transferred to Bermuda in 1859, Osborne Smith, then a Lieutenant, sold his commission and became a merchant in Montreal. He later became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Militia.

Osborne Smith carries the distinction of having the only regimental number that carries a fraction. His number was 2.5.He returned to Wales and died in Swansea in 1887.

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