Colonel (pronounced KUR-nal) was a military rank, the equivalent of which was used by the service organizations of many civilizations. As a traditional grade, colonel was the most senior line officer rank of a fighting organization, below the flag rank of general and senior to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In comparison to naval ranking systems, this rank was equivalent to the naval captain rank, the Romulan Star Empire's commander grade, the Ferengi Alliance's DaiMon, or the Cardassian Union's title of gul. A colonel commanded a group, consisting of several squadrons, or a regiment, consisting of several battalions.

In Starfleet, a colonel named West was in charge of a military briefing to the Federation President. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Colonel West however, wore the uniform of a Starfleet flag grade officer. The thin gold piping on the chest flap of his uniform suggests that he was senior to an ordinary Starfleet captain.

This grade existed in some form in many cultures' rank arrangements, such as the Klingon Defense Force, and the United States armed forces of Earth. The US insignia for a colonel was a silver rank pin or embroidery shaped like a stylized eagle, holding olive branches in one claw and arrows in the other. The Union Army of the US Civil War had colonel's insignia displayed on two epaulet shoulder straps with colored backgrounds, while later US forces wore the insignia on the collar or epaulet without a background field. The eagles on the two shoulders were not identical, as in each case, the eagle turns its head to face towards the wearer's front.

Colonel Thaddius Riker was not seen wearing his uniform insignia, but as an infantry colonel, his eagles would have been on a field of medium blue.

In the Confederate Army during the US Civil War, a colonel wore three five-pointed stars on either side of his collar. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")

In the German armed forces of World War II, colonels wore silver shoulder knots with two metal pips. The SS equivalent officers wore a single oak leaf insignia on their collar patch, and two metal pips on their shoulder boards. Translated into German as Oberst, colonels of the SS were referred to by the title Standartenführer. (TOS: "Patterns of Force"; VOY: "The Killing Game")

In the Bajoran Militia, a colonel wore a silver Bajoran insignia pin on the collar. (DS9 Season 6-Season 7)

In the Romulan Tal Shiar organization, a colonel wore a collar insignia of a gold triangle with two crescents lined up against it. (DS9: "The Die is Cast")

Noted colonels

According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 9), colonel was a rank in the Military Assault Command Operations in the 2150s. The insignia for this rank was on display in a diagran of MACO rank and insignia.
While West is the only confirmed colonel in starfleet, an okudagram that appears to have been cut mentioned a colonel Klink in a list of people that otherwise all appear to be Starfleet personel. It's worth noting that both characters originated as pop culture references: West to Lt. Colonel Oliver North, and Klink to a character from the show Hogan's Heroes.
This chart shows only general equivalencies based on the ranks used by many governments on Earth, as well as the rest of the galaxy.

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