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What are the Duties of an Air Force Colonel?

By Tamsen Butler
Updated May 17, 2024
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An Air Force colonel typically has a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. There are more than 100 different Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) to supervise within this branch of the military, so this means one Air Force Colonel might sit behind a desk and supervise contracting specialists while another Air Force colonel might run the base chapel and conduct religious services. All colonels are expected to be proficient leaders while also understanding the intricacies of their assigned specialty.

Colonels are oftentimes tasked to command a unit or entire bases, depending upon the size and purpose of the unit or base. While colonels are not the highest rank within the Air Force, they are considered senior officers and therefore are commonly responsible for large groups of personnel. Colonels who command units are expected to report to base commanders, while colonels who are base commanders are expected to report to leaders of their command, such as an Air Combat Command (ACC) or an Air Education and Training Command (AETC).

An Air Force colonel who works directly under a general typically will not have the same job duties as a colonel who is the commander of an entire base. Colonels working directly for higher ranking commanders will typically find themselves acting in an advisory capacity or as a liaison between the commander and the rest of the lower ranking personnel. It is not uncommon for smaller bases and deployed locations to have colonels as commanders, and an Air Force colonel in a command position is essentially in charge of the entire military base. He relies largely on senior non-commissioned officers and unit leaders to keep him informed and usually spends a great deal of time consulting with them.

The duties of a colonel in the Air Force also depend largely on the specialization he has. A colonel assigned to a flying unit, for example, may have very different daily duties than the colonel assigned to oversee the dining facility. While most colonels do have to deal with supervising other personnel, depending on the unit and the specialty, colonels may find themselves working right alongside other personnel of lower rank. What a colonel does on a day-to-day basis can vary widely, but daily duties almost always involve leading other people in one way or another.

Air Force colonels may get assigned to units featuring personnel from other military branches, but this does not change their authority. Regardless of their daily duties, Air Force colonels are high within the military rank structure and are expected to be respected and followed by personnel of lower rank.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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