Cobalt doped II-VI wide band semiconductors (e.g. ZnSe, ZnS, CdSe) are promising media for infrared (IR) laser applications. They could be utilized as effective passive Q-switches for cavities of Alexandrite as well as Nd and Er lasers operating over 0.7-0.8, 1.3-1.6, and ~2.8 μm spectral ranges. We report spectroscopic characterization of Co:ZnSe and Co:ZnS crystals. Absorption cross-sections were measured for 4A2(F) → 4T1(P), 4A2(F) → 4T1(F), and 4A2(F) → 4T2(F) transitions with maximum absorption at 768(726), 1615(1500), 2690(2740) nm for ZnSe(ZnS) crystals, respectively. The calculated absorption cross-sections of the above transitions were estimated to be 64(56)×1019, 7.5(7.8)×1019, and 0.52(0.49)×1019 cm2 for ZnSe(ZnS) crystal hosts. In addition to the above applications the cobalt ions could be utilized for excitation of Fe2+ ions via resonance energy transfer process. Tunable room temperature lasing of Fe 2+ doped binary and ternary chalcogenides has been successfully demonstrated over 3.5-6 μm spectral range. However, II-VI lasers based on Fe2+ active ions don’t feature convenient commercially available pump sources (e.g. some Fe doped crystal hosts require pump wavelengths longer than 3 μm). Therefore, the process of energy transfer from Co2+ to Fe2+ ions could enable utilization of commercially available visible and near-infrared pump sources. We report a spectroscopic characterization of iron-cobalt co-doped ZnS and ZnSe crystals over 14-300K temperature range. Mid-IR laser oscillation at 3.9 μm(3.6 μm) via energy transfer in the Co:Fe:ZnSe (Co:Fe:ZnS) co-doped crystals was demonstrated under cobalt excitation at 4A2(F) → 4T1(P) (~0.7μm) and 4A2(F) → 4T1(F) (~1.56 μm) transitions.