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Guardsman of the Armageddon Steel Legions
Part of a series on the:
Imperial Guard Hierarchy

Guardsman is the generic term for any member of the Imperial Guard, regardless of rank,[2a] but is also synonymous with the lowest enlisted rank of Trooper.[4] There are untold billions upon billions of Guardsmen in service, such that even the Departmento Munitorum has no idea of the true number of Guardsmen in existence.[1a][3a] These are normal men and women of the Imperium, called upon to serve the God-Emperor of Mankind and protect His realm against all threats. That they do so against a galaxy full of eldritch horrors, foul xenos and other nameless terrors is a heroic testament to their courage.[5a]

Recruitment and Training

The recruitment (or conscription) and training of each Guardsman is based entirely on the customs and traditions of their native homeworld, a result of the tithe imposed on each Planetary Governor. Just as there are a million worlds in the Imperium so too are there a million ways one can become a Guardsman; for many it is considered an honour to join the Guard, or at least a way to escape a wretched existence. The result are Guardsmen as wildly different from each other as possibly, from highly-trained professional soldiers to savage gang-fighters and medieval barbarians. If any additional training is required, especially among primitive recruits with little to no knowledge of how to work modern weapons of war, it will be given in transit to their initial deployment.[1a][3a][5a][6]

Role and Organization

Guardsmen fulfill every conceivable role within the Imperial Guard, from tank crewmen to snipers, vox-operators to medics. As laid out in the Tactica Imperium, the basic organisational unit most Guardsmen will fight under is the squad, a number of which will form into a platoon. Several platoons will make up a company which in turn make up a regiment. While such standards do exist, they are not uniformly followed for any number of reasons, leading to formations of different names, sizes and compositions.[5c]



Medics and Field Chiurgeons are Guardsmen trained to give medical treatment to wounded in the field in the heat of combat. They typically operate out of Company Command Squads.[5f] Medics go by many different names, but all are trained in providing first response and frontline medical care to injured Guardsmen. They are also equally combat-capable and will fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow squad-mates.[9]

Imperial Guard Field Chiurgeon

Standard Bearer

Standard Bearers are Guardsmen who due to battlefield gallantry have been rewarded with the honor of holding the Company or Regimental Standard. Typically operating out of Company Command Squads, the Standard Bearer serves as a reminder for the rest of the Company to fight with duty and honor.[5f]

Imperial Guard Standard Bearer


Vox-Operators are Guardsmen who operate Vox communication systems in the field, allowing for improved communications and coordination between Company, Platoon, and Squad commands.[5f]

  • Imperial Guard Vox-Operator
  • Imperial Guard Vox-Operator

Weapons Specialists

Some Guardsmen are given a variety of specialized weapons such as Plasma Guns, Heavy Bolters, Meltaguns, and Flamers. They typically operate out of Heavy Weapons Squads or Special Weapons Squads.[5f]

Guardsmen with a Plasma Gun

Hardened Veterans

As regiments fight grueling campaigns that last for years on end, eventually they will shrink in size as the number of casualties rises. In many cases an entire company will be reduced to a single squad of the most battle-tested, hardcore Guardsmen blessed with the strength and will to survive the nightmarish battlefields of the 41st Millennium. These Hardened Veterans are experts in all aspects of warfare, from marksmanship to demolition work, and carry a variety of non-standard weapons and equipment. Some regiments may have whole companies of battle-born killers, having survived the grim realities of warfare relatively unscathed. In many cases however these lone squads of hardened survivors will be attached to other regiments, often newly-formed ones, in the hope that their skills will be assimilated by their new parent unit. The Catachan Jungle Fighters do not contain Hardened Veterans as elite troops, instead their standard soldiers are considered to be the equivalent, having grown up and survived on the galaxy's deadliest planet.[5e][11]

Heavy Gunner

Heavy Gunners are Guardsmen specialized to operate heavy weapons such as Lascannons, Missile Launchers, Mortars, and Heavy Flamers. They often operate in Heavy Weapon Squads.[9]

Cadian Heavy Gunners with a Lascannon

Penal Conscripts

Main article: Penal Legion

For some service in the Imperial Guard is a way to absolve them of even the most horrible of crimes.

Penal Legion Conscripts


Main article: Stormtrooper

Storm Troopers, also known as Tempestus Scions, are specially-trained Guardsmen used to perform various types of special operations.

A Stormtrooper

Rough Riders

Main article: Rough Rider

Rough Riders are Guardsmen deployed as cavalry troopers.

A Krieg Rough Rider


Main article: Sharpshooter

Sharpshooter are trained snipers of the Imperial Guard.

A Cadian Sharpshooter


Main article: Imperial Guard Scout

Scouts are used for reconnaissance and to lead troops through difficult terrain.

A Imperial Guard Scout


Operators are Guardsmen who pilot and maintain the many vehicles in the Imperial Guard, giving them basic technical knowledge that makes them highly valued.

A Catachan Operator piloting a Sentinel


Breachers are Imperial Guardsmen who specialize in demolition and explosives as well as the breaching of enemy defenses.[12]

An Imperial Guard Breacher


Main article: Conscript

Conscripts, also known as Whiteshields, are Guardsmen who are quickly conscripted and rushed into service. They typically have little training and only the most basic equipment.[5f]

Imperial Guard Conscript


The only standard piece equipment each Guardsman is guaranteed to receive is the Lasgun, and even then some will go into battle without one. Not even a standard uniform exists within the Guard, each Guardsman equipped according to the traditions and resources available to their parent regiment.[5d]


Several Guard regiments include female troopers, including the Tanith First, the Omicron Rangers, and the Calderon Rifles. However, less than 10% of all Guard soldiers are female, and the vast majority of these serve in all-female regiments, such as the Valhallan 296th Ice Warriors. Mixed-sex regiments, such as the Tanith First and the Valhallan 597th, are a rarity[8].


Retirement from the Imperial Guard is unlikely, as is any hope of returning to ones world of origin. However if a Regiment has been so badly mauled that it is considered a waste of time and resources to combine it with others, they may be assigned garrison duty of a nearby planet, usually the same one they had just been fighting over. With the population center often decimated and the planet is tatters, the Regiment may be awarded custodianship of the world as a reward The officers of such forces inevitably become powerful and wealthy figures whose descendants form the new noble class.[13]

Known Guardsmen Privates


Imperial Guard Infantry
Command Company Command SquadPlatoon Command SquadScion Command SquadTank CommanderRegimental AdvisorsCommissarPrimaris PsykerTech-priest EnginseerPriest
Specialists Master of OrdnanceBreacherScoutMedicVox-OperatorWeapons SpecialistSharpshooterOperator
Troops Infantry SquadHeavy Weapons SquadSpecial Weapons SquadArmoured Fist SquadVeteran SquadScions SquadCanidsPenal Legion TroopersOgryn SquadRatling SquadPsyker Battle SquadRough Rider SquadField Ordnance BatteryJump TrooperH-Grade Combat Servitor