Generally speaking, members of militaries are separated in clear cut non-overlapping classes:

  1. Enlisted and NCO (sometimes separate)
  2. Oficers (often separated into Junior/Company - Lieutenant through Captain, O1-O3 - and Senior/Field - Major through Colonel, O4-O6)
  3. Generals (O7+)

Each level is usually visually distinct, e.g., in the Soviet army, only Generals had Lampasse.

However, there are two examples where Colonels are grouped with Generals:

  1. USSR: Generals and Colonels had a special hat as a part of their winter uniform.
    • Allegedly, a colonel and above could get a horse(!) at retirement (until 1960ies or 1970ies when a retiring colonel actually did demand a horse and then this hold-over from the 1920-ies was abolished)
  2. USA: Colonels are eligible for the same living and visitor quarters as general officers. Also (from @R-Leonard): Army Regulation 600–25: Salutes, Honors, and Courtesy specifies on p15, section 7-12.f that Generals and Colonels receive a "a full honor funeral consisting of one company" while LtCol and below get only a platoon.

This seems to indicate that "distinguishing" colonels from the other (senior) officers is not an arbitrary aberration -- which probably implies some historical context.

What is that context?

What other militaries group Colonels with Generals in some way?

  • 1
    In addition to the categories above, some traditions recognize "company grade" or "junior" officers and "field grade" or "senior" officers. The privileges would differ depending on grade and situation. Colonels would traditionally command regiments, which were at times seen capable of independent deployments. At least more capable than battalions or companies.
    – o.m.
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 16:40
  • 3
    In the US, the number of flag officers is limited by law, but the number of colonels is not. So flag-worthy officers start piling up at the rank of colonel.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 17:03
  • 1
    Insufficient evidence that #2 occurs. I'd look for military policy.
    – MCW
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:38
  • @MCW: I took #2 to mean REGULATIONS rather than PRACTICE.
    – sds
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:39
  • @MCW: #1 is regulation. #2 seems to me to mean that. This is why I am asking the question!
    – sds
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


I think you should define exactly to what privileges you refer rather than present us with a one shot squib regarding quarters. Quarters are a matter of what are available on a given post or station and how that might relate to a given billet.

I can assure you that no colonel is going to get assigned to Quarters 1 at Fort Myer.

I've known an Admiral, who commanded a carrier division out of South Boston Annex, was assigned duplex quarters at, then, Chelsea Naval Hospital all the way across town, with a Commander & his family on the other side of the wall while the hospital commander, a Captain, lived in a turn of the century mansion down by the river with a Captain's Row for the hospital's senior officers of 4-5 single family houses from the 1920's stretched along the river bank. Duplex was nice though, probably built in the 1930's, four stories, plenty of room.

A Colonel, moving into the right job, might get a large set of quarters which would equally please a General, but that is rarely a guarantee. You might want to consider that, by far, most general and flag officers and, yes, colonels and navy captains, do not live on a post or station but are, as it is known, "out on the economy." The reality is that usually specific jobs entitle one to quarters, for example, a colonel serving as chief of staff to a lieutenant general and the general, who rates quarters, wants his CoS ready and available, if not already planned for, the colonel will probably get the next set of quarters available.

On older posts and stations, some of these quarters look really nice but are maintenance hogs. The quarters on "Admiral's Row" on the naval Base in Norfolk were all built for the 1907 Jamestown Exposition and the Navy works very hard on their upkeep. I can tell you, though, from experience, that it is not unusual for a Captain to be assigned one of these as quarters, certainly not the largest and most visually imposing, but certainly more than ample. My father, then a captain circa 1960, had quarters on said "Admiral's Row" as did at least 2 other captains I can remember. One was the base commander, another was medical corps type, and my father was NavAirLant assistant operations officer . . . all living in quarters alongside the big shots. Evidently someone somewhere decided it was important to have these folks on base and near their posts.

If you are just Joe Colonel, another staff weenie of some sort, non-command type, and you want on post quarters, you can ask nicely if any will be available, but don't hold your breath. And they haven't allowed ranking out since the early 1900's so a colonel can't bump some major out of his quarters nor can a general bump the colonel lucky enough to get quarters.

  • I don't care about "quarters" or accommodations specifically (especially how those things pan out in practice - that, obviously, varies), but about REGULATIONS that group colonels with generals.
    – sds
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:38
  • 1
    You brought up quarters, not I. There are not to my knowledge any such regulations as you seem to be seeking. Colonels are field grade officers and generals are general officers, period, full stop. Again, to exactly what privileges do you refer?
    – R Leonard
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:48
  • Yes, aren't they regulated?! Or maybe you are implying that the local admins have a complete leeway wrt quarters for all officers and generals?
    – sds
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:49
  • Administration is not regulation.
    – R Leonard
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 19:52
  • 1
    Most housing is assigned by the post or base housing office based upon availability and the needs of the command, post to post, base to base . . . some similar, others maybe not so. Is there a army or navy regulation for same? No, there is not. The entire concept is very hard to explain absent a frame of reference. If that won't do it, may I suggest you start reading - Title 10 is a good place to start uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/…
    – R Leonard
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 20:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.