Lieutenant colonel (United States)

Lieutenant Colonel (United States)

Lieutenant colonel (United States)

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Please see "Lieutenant Colonel" for other countries which use this rank


In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the rank of commander in the other uniformed services.

The pay grade for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel is O-5. The insignia for the rank consists of a silver oak leaf, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Navy/Marine Corps version.

History

The rank of lieutenant colonel was first created during the Revolutionary War, when the position was held by aides to Regiment Colonels, and was sometimes known as "lieutenant to the colonel." The rank of lieutenant colonel had existed in the British Army since at least the 16th century.

During the 19th century, lieutenant colonel was often a terminal rank for many officers, since the rank of "full colonel" was considered extremely prestigious reserved only for the most successful officers. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, the rank of lieutenant colonel became much more common and was used as a "stepping stone" for officers who commanded small regiments or battalions and were expected, by default, to be promoted to full colonel once the manpower of a regiment grew in strength. Such was the case of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who...
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