- "Raise the flag high. Let those degenerates know who comes to claim their lives this day!"
- —Sergeant Adar Geronan, 4th Company, Imperial Fists
Command Squads are made up of highly disciplined and worthy Veteran Space Marines who often accompany Chapter Masters, Space Marine Captains and other important specialists, serving both as bodyguards and Standard Bearers.
The Codex Astartes states that the Chapter Master of a Space Marine Chapter should make proper provision for the protection of important heroes on the battlefield, recognising as it does the importance of the Chapter's Officers, Standard Bearers, Apothecaries, Librarians and other specialists. Most Codex-compliant Chapters therefore organise Command Squads to act in the role of bodyguard to these important warriors.
Command Squads accompany high-ranking Space Marine officers on the field of battle. The exact nature and title of a Command Squad's members can vary, depending on a Chapter's organisation and the personality of a company's Captain. The most common specialists are the Company Champion, Apothecary and Company Standard Bearer, and these can be found in almost all Command Squads. Even so, some Chapters maintain other titles and positions in accordance with their traditions, such as the Foeseekers of the Omega Marines, the Prognosticars of the Silver Skulls, the Terrorblades of the Death Spectres and the Pyre Wardens of the Fire Lords.
Service in a Command Squad undoubtedly speeds promotion within the Chapter -- most Captains fill their retinues with Veterans in whom the bloody skills of combat are matched by tactical and strategic brilliance. This being the case, Space Marine Captains and their Command Squads can invariably be found in the thickest fighting, battling in the midst of the most gruelling of wars against the most terrible of foes.
The modern era Space Marine Command Squad is the predecessor of the Legion Command Squad, a tactical formation of the ancient Space Marine Legions used during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
In the ancient Legiones Astartes it was a common sight to see senior Astartes commanders and champions accompanied in battle by a squad of elite warriors that served both as a bodyguard for their commander and were entrusted to carry one of the Legion's great standards. On the battlefield this made them a rallying point for the Legion's troops. These chosen Space Marines had access to the finest wargear available to the Legion's rank and file and embodied the Legion's honour in war.
In the 41st Millennium, Command Squads are a common formation of elite specialists who accompany high-ranking Space Marine officers on the field of battle. The exact nature and title of a Command Squad's members can vary, depending on a Chapter's organisation and the personality of a company's Captain. The most common Command Squads are usually composed of a company Champion, an Apothecary, and a Company Standard Bearer, all positions which can be found in almost all Command Squads.
The Codex Astartes states that the Chapter Master of a Space Marine Chapter should make proper provision for the protection of important heroes on the battlefield, recognising as it does the importance of the Chapter's officers, Standard Bearers, Apothecaries, Librarians and other specialists. Most Codex-compliant Chapters therefore organise Command Squads to act in the role of bodyguard to these important warriors.
The Command Squads are not a codified part of the company organisation of the Chapter; rather they are Codex Astartes-approved, yet still ad hoc units. As such they can vary in size and composition but they rarely comprise more than ten Space Marines and normally consist of between 5 and 10 Astartes. In the Battle and Reserve Companies of a Chapter these Astartes are always Veterans drawn from the ranks of the Company's Tactical, Assault and Devastator Marine Squads who have not yet been promoted to the elite 1st Company. The number of Astartes in a Command Squad will vary according to the availability of such Veterans and to the tactical situations the Chapter encounters.
The Command Squad is more flexible than most of the other squad types of the Space Marines because up to two of the Astartes may be designated as Special Weapons Troopers or as Heavy Weapon Troopers. This is in part due to the availability of specifically-trained Astartes and in part due to differing tactical needs. The mix of supreme individual warriors and highly experienced Veteran Space Marine Battle-Brothers makes Command Squads a particularly powerful fighting force and many a battle has been won by their timely intervention or clever deployment by a Space Marine Force Commander.
The Sergeant of a Command Company may display his back banner. The banner displays the Chapter Badge, the Sergeant's red skull rank badge and is trimmed in the company colour.
Command Squad Organisation
Company Standard Bearer
A Company Standard Bearer, or "Ancient," is a hand-picked Veteran Space Marine with many years of combat experience. In the midst of battle he is often the focal point the Command Squad will rally around in the heat of battle. A Standard Bearer is often chosen by the company's Captain for this honourable duty because of his bravery and steadfastness in battle. He is a very capable warrior who cannot be discounted when assessing the fighting strength of the company and carries the battle-flag of the company in which he serves. Each standard is an ancient relic, steeped in history and heavy with the glories of the Chapter, and every Space Marine, from the most inexperienced recruit to the hoariest Veteran, fights all the harder in its august presence.. A Standard Bearer has his own shoulder plate markings as befits his officer status within the Chapter. The Standard Bearer's rank badge is the Imperial Laurel honour, usually combined with a skull. The Standard Bearer is trusted never to let his banner out of his grip while he still draws breath -– to do otherwise is to invite the most terrible and shameful dishonour.
The Apothecary is well-versed in the arts of battlefield aid as well as advanced surgery, cybernetics and bio-engineering. He must also be a warrior of untold might and unquenchable bravery, for his place is in the bloody heart of battle. If a comrade falls, the Apothecary can use his Narthecium to tend the wounds, allowing his brother to return to battle even after suffering the most appalling of injuries. However, not all the wounded can be saved. Some weapons are terrible enough to mortally wound a Space Marine outright. The Apothecary can then only calm the spirits of the dying and prepare them for death. Once dead, a Space Marine can live on through his gene-seed, the Apothecary using his reductor to remove the Progenoid Glands from the body. From the genetic imprint held within these precious organs, future generations of Space Marines are created, and the continuation of the Chapter is assured.
Company Champions are charged with defending the honour of their company, their Chapter and the Emperor Himself. They engage the warlords and champions of the foe in single combat, leaving the Captain of their company free to conduct the wider battle, rather than engage in a series of personal combats. Company Champions have key roles in the rituals and ceremonies of their Chapter, representing their Battle-Brothers in rites and mysteries just as they do in war.
- Power Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Bolter (as replacement for Chainsword and/or Bolt Pistol)
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Company Standard (carried by Company Standard Bearer)
- Standard of the Emperor Ascendant (relic standard available to one Chapter at a time)
- Power Weapon (any type; optional for Company Champion)
- Combat Shield (optional for Company Champion)
- Narthecium (for Apothecary)
- Melta Bombs
- Storm Shield
- Assault Bikes (as transport for the entire squad)
- Drop Pod, Rhino or Razorback (as dedicated transport for entire squad)
Notable Command Squads
- "Lions of Macragge" - Captain Cato Sicarius; Ultramarines 2nd Company
- "The Swords of Calth" - Captain Uriel Ventris; Ultramarines 4th Company
Notable Command Squad Variants
The exact nature and title of a Command Squad's members can vary, depending on a Chapter's organisation and the personality of a company's Captain. The following is a list of notable Command Squad variants found in other Space Marine Chapters:
|Chapter||Command Squad Variant|
|Fire Lords||Pyre Wardens|
|Space Wolves||Wolf Guard|
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition), pp. 80-81, 105, 310-312
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 88, 164
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 18, 55
- Insignium Astartes, pg. 26
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pp. 192-193
- The Chapter's Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill