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COL is the Air Force abbreviation for Colonel. A Colonel is a commissioned officer in the pay grade of O-6. Colonels are usually unit commanders at the Group level or higher. To be promoted to the rank of Colonel, an officer must have at least 21 years of total military service, and at least three years in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In addition, a Colonel select must have completed Air War College, either by correspondence course or in residence. Only 50% of officers who are eligible for promotion to Colonel actually receive a promotion to this rank. Those who are not selected for promotion can continue as a Lieutenant Colonel, or be separated from the service. The Secretary of the Air Force must approve promotion orders for officers selected for O-6.