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Imperial Guard Hierarchy

The following article gives an overview of the command structure and the individual ranks of the Imperial Guard.

The Strategic Command

It is the Departmento Munitorium, the Administratum's munitions and supply department in charge of the administration and provisioning of the Imperial Guard[3b], that is responsible for providing the strategic command of the Guard. The Departmento forms the Guard's General Staff responsible for:[7a]

  • munitions[7a]
  • supply[7a]
  • recruitment/ mustering[2a]
  • training[7a]
  • transportation[7a]
  • technical and medical support[2a]
  • discipline[2a]
  • and all other aspects of the establishment of the Imperial Guard[7a]

The Departmento Munitorium is organized at Sector and Sub-sector level with each level having enough autonomy to deal with local problems and to support the Imperial Commanders if need be. The Departmento has the authority to raise Regiments from worlds that are close to a crisis point. The radius around the crisis point is increased as necessary to deal with the problem in question. If for example an Imperial world is invaded the first line of defense are the Planetary Defence Forces of the local Imperial Commander. Should they not be sufficient to deal with the threat the the Sub-sector Command of the Departmento Munitorium will send in its standing regiments in support. In case of need for more manpower then additional regiments may be raised, first on nearby worlds, then throughout the whole sub-sector. As the amount of deployed troops grows Sector Command will become involved and more and more Guardsmen will be sent in. Since the system is able to react to the threat posed at a crisis point no central control is required.[2a]

In any active war zone hundreds of senior commanders with thousands of personal staff are in charge of operations. They are complemented by tens of thousands of bureaucratic and support personel such as scribes, observers and organisational officers of the Departmento Munitorium. Responsibility for the strategic and grand tactical military operations however falls to a complex system of high ranking officers within the Imperial Guard itself.[7a]

Most of these staff officers rarely find themselves embroiled in the actual fighting - with the exception of the Commissars who regularly fight at the front.[7a] It is the Commissars of the Departmento Munitorium who (apart from their other tasks) also provide the link between regimental commanders and strategic officers.[7b]

The General Staff

Individual Regiments of the Imperial Guard are normally commanded by their own officers. However when dozens of regiments are deployed together a higher level of command is required. This higher level is provided by the General Staff of the Departmento Munitorium.[2a]

The members of the General Staff are recruited from the best officers the tithed Regiments can offer, based on recommendations through previous service or through family connections. The selected officers then receive additional training to prepare them for their greater role in commanding armies.[2a]

The General Staff is subordinate to the Lord General Militant (or equivalent) and consists of the Lord Marshal, Captain-General and Lord Castellan and the Staff Officers of Ranks from General to Lieutenant.[2a],[6]

The place of the General Staff members within the hierarchy is given as follows:[6]

Lord Commander Militant/ Lord General Militant

The chief of strategic staff of the Departmento Munitorium is the Lord Commander Militant of the Imperial Guard.[7a] The highest officer of the General Staff is also known as Lord General Militant, however there are many other titles for this post which are regularly used.[2a] This array of titles is rarely a problem as the appointment to such a high office is singular in nature and there is only ever one Lord General active in a Sector at a given time.[2a]

The person to hold this post is a powerful official and can also be a High Lord of Terra.[3a],[7a] The Lord Commander Militant (together with the Chancellor of the Estate Imperium and the Master of the Administratum) represents the Departmento Munitorium amongst the High Lords of Terra.[2a] There is one Lord Commander Militant for each of the strategic command bases (see below) and within his Segmentum each of them is responsible for all military operations in the area.[7a]

There are five separate strategic command bases, one of them in the Segmentum Solar, the other four in the outlying Segmentae:[7a]

These bases exist alongside the Imperial Navy fleet bases and they all have their own strategic command staff and reserves.[7a]

Warmaster/ Lord Solar

When a level of command is required that exceeds that which a Lord General Militant can provide - for example in rare events like the organisation of a major Crusade that requires resources from multiple Sectors - a Warmaster can be appointed. This rank cannot be bestowed by the Departmento Munitorium without the express consent of the High Lords of Terra. So unrivalled are the powers of a Warmaster that there is rarely more than one of them active in the Imperium and that hundreds of years can pass without one being appointed. Since the title "Warmaster" can bear a certain stigma since Horus wore this title other titles have been used for the office, most notably that of Lord Solar. And while some consider the rank of Lord Solar to be even higher than that of Warmaster to all intents and purposes the two titles are interchangeable.[2a]

The individual officer ranks

For more details see the corresponding articles.

Other known Imperial Guard ranks and titles

The exact position and/ or details of the following ranks and titles within the hierarchy of the Imperial Guard have not been explained in detail:

Planet or regiment specific officer titles


See also



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]

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]

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.[1e]

According to another source the