The highest-ranking of the Air Force’s Field-Grade Officers, Colonels are sometimes referred to informally as “Full Birds” because of their distinct eagle insignia and to distinguish them from Lieutenant Colonels, who are also addressed as “Colonel” in correspondence. Worn on the epaulets of the Men’s and Women’s Service Dress uniforms, as well as on outwear garment such as the Topcoat, the Colonel insignia is to be positioned so that the eagle is facing forward.

Note that the Miniature (3/4”) rank insignia was authorized for wear on the collars of khaki shirts in the 1950s and light-blue, short-sleeved shirts in the 1970s. These collar rank insignia were replaced with slide-on insignia sometime in the late 1970s.

The number of active-duty Officers that may be serving as Colonels in the United States Air Force at any given time is calculated as a percentage of all Commissioned Officers that declines as the total number of Officers increases. For example, if the Air Force has 35,000 active-duty Officers, then 2,125, or 6 percent, may hold the rank of Colonel. If the total number of USAF Officers were to double to 70,000, then the maximum number of Colonels would be fixed at 3,392—just 4.8 percent of the total number of officers. (These authorized strength figures do not include certain officers such as Flag Officers, Medical and Dental Officers, Warrant Officers, and Reserve Officers who are excluded by other statutes from the total calculation.)

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As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263. Tel: 1-844-937-2588