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Imperial Guard Hierarchy

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Imperial Guard Hierarchy

The Hierarchy of the Astra Militarum is complex, but not so much that it cannot be understood; the main issues of confusion arise from the sheer variety of terminology employed by the Astra Militarum and the lack of uniform standardisation across units. For example, in Tallarn regiments, the rank of Sergeant is also known as Duf'adar[5], and the size and composition of a typical Tallarn Company is unlikely to match that of a company of, for instance, the Tanith 1st.

Bearing this in mind, the ranks and responsibilities of the Imperial Guard are outlined below.


The Imperial Guard are ultimately controlled by the masters of the Departmento Munitorum, who themselves are members of the High Lords of Terra. The relevant High Lords in this case are the Chancellor of the Estate Imperium, the Master of the Administratum and perhaps most importantly, the Lord Commander Militant of the Imperial Guard. Subordinate to him are the Lord Commanders of each of the five Segmentae of the Imperium, ultimately in charge of all military operations in his own Segmentum. Accordingly there are five Lords Commander: Solar, Pacificus, Tempestus, Obscurus and Ultimat.[1a]

An unusual command rank outside the normal promotions ladder is that of Warmaster, the commander of Crusades. This rank is not reachable by any conventional means and is only bestowed by agreement of the High Lords themselves. It is unlikely that more than one Warmaster would exist at any one time in the entire Imperium and many centuries may pass without anyone holding this exalted position.[2]

The highest 'conventional' rank reachable in the Guard is that of Lord General Militant (or equivalent), the highest rank above the General Staff corps and one which brings with it command of armies of almost limitless number. The General Staff itself is a highly striated and decentralised formation, with its officers present in every major (and many minor) battle theatre in the Imperium. There are many variations of General Officer rank, but by nature an Imperial Guard General is likely to command battlegroups of multi-regiment force. Regimental Officers are normally holders of the rank of Colonel, with each regiment's officer corps split into various senior, junior and non-commissioned positions.[2]

Operating in parallel to this command tree is that of the other Imperial organisations the Guard comes into contact with, principally that of the Commissariat. Commissars are integral parts of the Imperial Guard command echelons, with every regiment having at least one Commissar attached to it, and likely more. Commissars are also normally included in any General Staff grouping.

High Command

At its highest level the Imperial Guard is commanded by the Lord Commander Militant of the Imperial Guard, a member of the High Lords of Terra. The wishes of the High Lords are passed from the Lord Commander Militant to his subordinates, the Lord Commanders Segmentum, who notionally control the actions of the Imperial Guard within their Segmentae. In practice, however, the immense difficulties involved in exercising command-and-control over such distances means that actual direction of Guard forces is orchestrated by officers lower down the command tree.[1d]

  • Lord Commander Militant of the Imperial Guard: This is the highest rank of the strategic staff of the Departmento Munitorum. A powerful official, he is often appointed to a position on the High Lords of Terra, the governing body of the Imperium.[3]
  • Lord Commander: A subordinate strategic rank, five Lord Commanders are each responsible for the Guard forces in each of the Imperium's segmentums.[1a]
  • Warmaster: Warmasters are created when a Crusade is being planned and resources from multiple sectors are needed. The rank is not available unless granted by the High Lords of Terra.
  • Lord General Militant: the highest conventional field rank in the Imperial Guard. They are in charge of whole battlegroups of Imperial Guard regiments and are assigned to their combat theatres by the Departmento Munitorum.

General Staff

The General Staff of the Imperial Guard is not a coherent organisation; the term is principally used to describe all officers who serve in the command echelons above those of regimental level. Most commanding officers in the staff category carry some form of General's rank, but more junior officers can also be found in the General Staff; they are drawn from regiments to act as aides and administrative assistants. They do not exercise individual authority and merely act as conduits between their superiors and other officers. A position common in the General Staff is that of Imperial Tactician, a non-command rank that nevertheless is vital. Trained staff officers, Tacticians help to devise and organise battle plans and strategy.[4] The Lord General is the highest rank available inside the General Staff, and one with a multitude of official designations. Below him are various ranks of General.[1e]

General Staff-level ranks thus include:[6]

Regimental Officers

Cadian officers

According to the Tactica Imperium, regimental leaders range in rank from Colonel to Lieutenant. In practice however, the individual regiments making up the vast Imperial Guard are drawn from so many different human worlds, and in turn, many different cultures, that between different regiments the actual name given to an officer rank can vary heavily.

Regimental officers hail from the same world as the troops they command, assuming officer rank at the initial formation of the regiment. Prior to this, they may have held positions of leadership within the Planetary Defence Force from which members of the regiment may have been drawn. In some cases, such as when a regiment is formed from a hive world gang, officers are the former leaders of the gang. A guardsman's loyalty is naturally to the colonel of his regiment and the other regimental officers, who all have a common world of origin. Regimental officers are advised not to throw the lives of their men away with impunity; those who needlessly sacrifice the men under their command are likely to end up in the Penal Legions.[Needs Citation]

  • Castellan: Seems to denote command of one or several regiments, exact placement in hierarchy unclear.[2]
  • Colonel: Typically the commanding officer of a regiment.
  • Major: The second-in-command of a regiment.[4] This rank (or equivalent) does not appear particularly universal.
  • Captain: Combat Unit (typically Company-strength) commander, they are the most common regimental senior officers.[2]
  • Tank Commander: Lead squadrons of Battle Tanks and accompanying infantry.
  • Lieutenant: The most junior officer on the battlefield commanding Imperial Guard forces. They are generally thought as platoon leaders[2]

Non-Commissioned Officers

Sergeants, Corporals and other NCO ranks act as small unit commanders, as well as providing almost constant oversight of the main body of Guardsmen within a regiment. They carry out any tasks assigned to them by their officers and are essential to the running of the regiment.


The standard soldier of the Imperial Guard is the Guardsman, also known as a Trooper. (see also Conscript).


While in some regiments Conscripts are on the same level as a standard Guardsman, in others they must "earn" their right to be fully inducted into the regiment. This is particularly prominent with Whiteshields.

See also



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 SquadPenal Legion TroopersOgryn SquadRatling SquadPsyker Battle SquadRough Rider SquadField Ordnance BatteryJump TrooperH-Grade Combat Servitor