The Imperial Guard
The Imperial Guard, also known as the Astra Militarum in High Gothic, are the ground forces of the Imperium of Humanity. Countless billions of soldiers from every planet of the Imperium fight and die on thousands of worlds across the galaxy, often hundreds of light-years from home. Life in the Guard is bloody, gritty, work, few survive service as they fight for the very survival of Humanity against the Imperium’s foes.
Five Things To Note About the Imperial Guard
- They are not local. First-line defence of a planet against internal and external threats is carried out by Planetary Defence Forces, local levies raised by the Planetary Governor from among the population. Imperial Guard are almost always deployed away from their home planets.
- They are Humanity’s Fighting Elite. While it is easy to think of the Guard as being used as cannon fodder by uncaring Imperial commanders, and it is true that they are simply -numbers- to many. The majority of Imperial Guard represent the cream of the crop of humanity’s fighting forces and while the vast majority are basically-equipped infanteers or armoured units – there are several elite regiments focused on stealth and special operations
- They are diverse. While all fall under the banner of the Guard, each Regiment’s traditions, command structure, equipment and ranks are unique. Rank across different Regiments is a difficult and delicate business to work out, and even the size of a Regiment can differ wildly from planet to planet.
- They do not have ships. The Imperial Guard do not have their own Warp-capable vessels, and apart from some in-atmosphere fighters and small transports, rely entirely on the Imperial Navy to fly anywhere
- They do the fighting. While the Imperium likes to tell dashing tales about the superhuman Astartes, and the faithful Sorors, it is the Guard who are involved in 99% of all of the Imperium’s engagements. They own their title as the Hammer of the Imperium, and although other forces may steal the credit, the Guard are responsible for the majority of its major victories.
The History of the Imperial Guard in the Prosperitas Sector
When Warmaster Jascinta Durovera’s Crusade began in 013.M41, the Imperial ships who came to relieve her carried in their holds thousands of Guard forces to suppress the rebellious worlds of the Sector. These forces were soon exhausted in the decades and centuries that followed, however, and with world after world falling compliant before the Warmaster’s sword, all were soon called upon to provide a tithe of troops to the Crusade.
Today, the bulk of the Imperial Guard forces subordinate to the Crusade are composed of locally raised Regiments. As a result, none can claim seniority dating back more than four or five centuries – a very brief history indeed in Guard terms.
- The supreme commander of all Imperial Guard forces is the Lord Commander Militant, one of the High Lords of Terra.
- The Lord Commander Militant is assisted by five Lord Commanders Segmentum, one for each of the five corners of the Galaxy. The Prosperitas Sector falls under Segmentum Obscurus.
- At the Sector level and below, Guard forces might be commanded by a Lord General Militant. In sectors with an active Crusade, such as the Prosperitas Sector, the forces fall under the overall command of the Warmaster.
- The General Staff, made up of high-ranking Guard and Navy officers, assist the Warmaster in the running of the Crusade. The Prosperitas Staff are based at Crusade High Command on Polarnus Station.
- The four Salient Commanders of the Sector command mixed Battlegroups made up of combined Guard, Navy and specialist forces, each assigned to one of the Crusade’s Salients.
Rank and Status in the Regiments
With forces drawn from every conceivable planet and culture in the Sector, rank across Regiments is a tricky business. One trooper’s Colonel might be called a Castellan-Major elsewhere; a Sergeant might command thirty troops in one regiment, but act as advisor and aide to a junior officer in another. Insignia is just as variable, and many an unwary trooper has been caught out with a tongue-lashing for saluting the wrong number of pips on a sleeve.
Regiments assigned to the Salients each fall under their own commander – usually called a Colonel. This senior officer leads their Regiment in the field and takes their orders directly from the Salient Commander.
Below the commander, regiments are led by Officers. The method of selecting these officers varies wildly; some Regiments accept only officers from high-status families, some select based on aptitude and merit, some promote the most senior and promising soldiers into these roles and others have stranger and more unique traditions. Officers of a Regiment are often referred to as holding the Emperor’s Commission, a document which entitles them to issue legal orders to any soldier. Typical Prosperitan rank names for regimental Officers, sometimes called include Lieutenant, Ensign, Cornet, Fo-Chennard, Breedman, Subaltern; Captain, Toran, Chennard, Qayid; Major, Jakaran, Commandant, Ceanfort. Officers ranked “Captain” who serve or travel aboard Imperial Navy vessels are usually given a “courtesy promotion” to the next rank up while aboard, to avoid confusion with the vessel’s master.
Each Regiment will be divided into sub-units, whose names and command structure are as variable as their homeworlds. One classic pattern has each Regiment divided into four Companies, each led by a Major, and each Company divided into three Platoons, each led by a Lieutenant or Captain; but to the despair of the Munitorum, this pattern is by no means universal. The internal organisation of a Regiment is entirely in the gift of the Colonel, bound only by her whim and the traditions of her homeworld.
Some Officers find themselves detached from their Regiments to serve as aides and functionaries on the Staff of their Salient Commander or at Crusade High Command, referred to as “Staff Officers”. These officers do not command troops directly, but instead spend their time planning and shaping the next battles of the Crusade. Staff service is seen as boring, lacking glory, but a positive career move for a young officer looking for higher rank.
Soldiers who show particular aptitude are selected to become Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). These soldiers are not usually saluted or entitled to the same privileged as a Commissioned Officer, but are promoted by dint of seniority and expertise to leadership positions. They act as subordinate commanders and specialists for the Regiment, advising and assisting the officers. Very senior NCOs can rise to high status, advising Colonels and Generals with the benefits of their decades of experience on the battlefield as Regimental or Command Sergeants-Major. In the Prosperitas Sector, common NCO ranks include Corporal, Arif, Sergeant, Sairsint, and a thousand variants; Lance-Corporal, Colour-Sergeant, Corporal-of-Horse, Colour-Arif…
Finally, Troopers make up the billions-strong forces of the Prosperitas Crusade. Recruited from worlds across the Sector. The majority of Troopers recruited for the Guard will be drawn from the cream of the crop of their worlds defence forces, or from volunteers, the Guard would -prefer- to take willing and quality soldiers where it can find them.
In rare circumstances where a force is needed to be raised with some rapidity, the Imperium will consider mass conscription, but this is a rare choice, and such regiments (referred to as ‘Conscripts’ or ‘Whiteshields’) are often raised from prisoner populations on penal worlds and are often obliterated in meatgrinder campaigns where they are used to slow enemies while more elite Regiments and Imperial Forces are brought to bare.
Although the Departmento Munitorum is eager to provide endless propo-vids and posters advertising the benefits of pay, glory and pensions available to those who serve in the Guard, most will never return to enjoy them. While some worlds like Shadowglow consider Guard service a great honour and run extensive selection events to send only their best and brightest to the stars, for many others though, selection for duty is the promise of never seeing home again and dying under alien suns. The rank of Trooper is common, but soldiers might be called Private, Fusilier, Guard, Askar, Recruit, Earcach; and in some specialist regiments, Signaller, Sapper, Crafter, Gunner, Tanker and so on.
People of Note
- Warmaster Armelius Durovera. In overall command of the Prosperitas Crusade, the Warmaster and Sector Governor directs his forces from his Flagship, the Exorcist class Grand Cruiser Word of Despite.
- Lord-General Militant Ruprecht Janus. A dogmatic, perfectionist general, Lord-General Janus is the son of the famed war hero Heta Janus. His mother died while personally leading a suicide charge on an enemy General’s command vehicle on Kelper Prime. He commands Battlegroup Diomedes.
- Captain-General Brianna Twine. An aggressive, idealistic commander from old Imperial Aristocratic stock, the Captain-General is in joint command of Fleet Arm Geryon. She earned her stars as the commander of a Leman Russ tank regiment, and has all the carefree arrogance typical of a senior cavalry officer.
Slang and Battle-Cant
+ – out
ACK – acknowledge
ACK/AUTH – I have understood your request and approve it; proceed
ALPHA – a location target of interest
AMMO – ammunition
AO – Area of Operations
ARMR – Armoured vehicles
ARTY – Artillery
ASS’D – Assessed
AUTH – authenticate, or approve
Black forces – organised crime / rebels
Blue forces – friendly
BRAVO – a human or Xenos target of interest
CAP – capability
CAS – casualty
CASREP – Casualty Report
CAT1 – a seriously wounded casualty requiring immediate medicae treatment
CAT2 – a non-walking casualty
CAT3 – walking wounded
CAT4 – unsalvageable casualty requiring the Emperor’s Peace
CHARLIE – a vehicle or Voidship target of interest
COG – centre of gravity
COIN – Counter-Insurgency
COMD – command(er)
COMPLETE – all troops/equipment in one location
CQA – close quarter attack / assassination
CSUP – Combat Supplies
DE – This Is
DET – detail (“Grd in Det” = Ground in Detail)
DET – Detonator
EF – Enemy Forces
ELMS – Elements
EMBUREP – Emergency Burial Report
EN – enemy
EQPT – Equipment
FA – First Aid
FF – Friendly Forces
FRAG – fragmentation
G1 – personnel
G2 – intelligence
G3 – operations
G4 – logistics & sustainment
G5 – plans
G6 – communications / vox
G7 – training
G8 – Munitorum requests, finance & procurement
G9 – doctrine & spiritual guidance
GD or GRD – Ground
Green forces – local/allied security forces
H – Hello
HE – High Explosive
HLS – rotary-wing landing site
HQ – Headquarters
HVT – High Value Target
I READBACK – I am reading back your last message to verify
IDF – Indirect Fire (mortars/rockets/artillery)
INS – Insurgent/Insurgency
INT – intelligence
IVO – in the vicinity of
K – over
KLE – key leader engagement
L – attached to a time, this means “local time”
LOC – lines of communication
LOCSTAT – location
LOE – Limit of Exploitation
LOGS – logistics
LZ – Landing zone
MEANS – method of communication (“These Means” = this vox channel)
MSG – Message
NKA – No Known Allergies
NOCHEM – No standard Medicae chemicals
NOPEN – No Standard Antibiotics
NOSYN – No Synthskin
NOTICAS – notification of casualty’s relatives/loved ones
O Gp – Orders Group
PIR – Priority Intelligence Requirement
Pl – Platoon
PRI – Priority
Ptl – Patrol
QRF – Quick Reaction Force
RADIO CHECK – are you hearing this message?
RATS – rations
RECCE – reconnaissance
Red forces – enemy
REPLENDEM – Replenishment demand
RF – Red Forces
RFI – Request for Information
RGR – roger
RIP – Relief-in-place
Rpt – Report
RTB – Return(ed) To Base
SA – Situational Awareness
SANGAR – a small fortified firing position
SECT – section
SITREP – Situation Report
SLS – Shuttle landing site
SMK – smoke
SML – small
SOP – standard operating procedure
SPT – support
SQEP – Suitably Qualified & Equipped Personnel
STR – Strength
STRAT – strategic
SUS – Sustainment or Life Support
SYM – Send Your Message
TAC – tactical headquarters
TPT – transport
TRN – terrain
TTPs – Tactics, Techniques & Procedures
VEH – vehicle
VERIFY – read back the contents of the message I have just sent
Vis – Visibility
VOX CHECK – as RADIO CHECK
VULN – vulnerable / vulnerability
W – wait
WF – White Forces
White forces – local civilians
WNGO / WGO – warning order
WTR – water
ZERO – the head / commander of a vox net