- "The deeds of one bold warrior can alter the course of a battle. I have four such men under my command, and our every deed changes the shape of the galaxy."
A Sergeant is an Astartes noncommissioned officer who commands a squad composed of 10 Space Marines. Ten of these squads form each of the 10 companies that comprise a standard Space Marine Chapter that follows that organisational dictates of the Codex Astartes. Sergeants are selected from hardened Veteran Space Marines who have survived and thrived through several solar decades, or even standard centuries, of hard and brutal campaigning in the name of the Emperor of Mankind.
It is essential that a Space Marine squad be led by a canny and daring individual capable of divining the flow of battle for those opportunities that will allow his squad to maximise its tactical advantage, and it is quite common for squad Sergeants to be seconded from their Chapter's elite 1st Company. This is to ensure that the mainstay of the Chapter's battle forces are led by the most experienced of its warriors.
Sergeant is an honoured rank amongst the Space Marines, a title and responsibility awarded in recognition of those Astartes who have proven their mettle in the heat of battle time-and-time-again. These select individuals are singled out and awarded the title of Sergeant, along with the privilege of leading a squadron of their Battle-Brothers into the fires of war. Sergeants undergo additional special training in leadership and tactics.
They are the Astartes leaders primarily responsible for executing the Chapter's missions and for training their squad members so that they are prepared to execute their operational functions at a moment's notice. In battle, a Sergeant has the option to use a variety of weapons, with most opting for a Bolt Pistol and Chainsword combination. The Sergeant may have fought enough battles to qualify as a Veteran. Such Veterans are often promoted to special command duties or transferred to the vaunted ranks of their Chapter's elite 1st Company.
Such is the experience wielded by the Sergeants of an Astartes squad that their seniority and authority is second only to that of their company's commanding Captain. It is not unusual for a senior Sergeant to be given command over several other squads at the battle's onset, allowing the company Captain to focus his strategic and tactical acumen on a particular area of the conflict rather than dissipating it across the battlefront. Should the Captain be slain or otherwise eliminated, command of the strike force automatically and seamlessly passes to the most senior Sergeant. Only a foolish enemy would think this to their advantage however -- any shortfall in experience a Sergeant has in comparison to his fallen Captain is more than made up for by the newfound determination he possesses to avenge his fallen commander.
Space Marine Sergeant Variants
- Assault Sergeant - Assault Marines who excel in the fury of close combat are organised into Assault Squads and equipped with Jump Packs that allow them to take the fight to the enemy in brutal close-quarters fighting. Armed with a mixture of pistols and melee weapons, usually Chainswords, they are terrifying foes in battle, dropping from above like flaming angels of death. Often they operate far ahead of the rest of the Space Marine force, always in constant danger of being outflanked, cut off or overwhelmed by superior numbers. The Assault Sergeant is a master of command-and-control, always aware not only of his current tactical situation, but also any imminent or potential developments. This ensures that he is able to properly coordinate his Assault Squad's deployments and operational efficiency.
- Scout Squad Sergeant - Scout Marines are placed under the tutelage of a Scout Sergeant who will oversee their induction and training and also lead the Scouts into their first battles. Not yet ready to join a full company of their Chapter, the young Scouts live alongside their brothers in the 10th Company. They are trained in the arts of war and are often utilised to scout ahead of an advancing Space Marine force to gather intelligence and to execute surprise attacks behind enemy lines. Sergeants of the 10th Scout Company are often amongst the most experienced members of the Chapter, usually having passed through the ranks of the elite 1st Company and forgone promotion to a higher office.
- Veteran Sergeant - A Veteran Sergeant is a grizzled Veteran of countless campaigns and a Chapter hero who has committed exceptional acts of valour and courage over many solar decades or centuries of service. They often receive the Crux Terminatus, having proven their battlefield skills as respected and accomplished Veterans of their Chapter. Veteran Sergeants are usually trained in the use of Terminator Armour. Veteran Sergeants lead the squads of their Chapter's elite 1st Company, and are sometimes borrowed by other company squads within the Chapter, so as to better benefit those Battle-Brothers under their command with their experience and their access to more advanced wargear.
- Terminator Sergeant - Having proven themselves in the crucible of battle, Terminator Sergeants are counted first amongst their brethren and are expected to conduct the most difficult of missions and to perform beyond even the lofty standards of the Adeptus Astartes. As some of the greatest heroes within their Chapter, these vaunted and indefatigable heroes lead Terminator assaults aboard Tyranid-infested Space Hulks, spearhead teleport assaults, and conduct combat actions in extremely hostile environments.
Those Space Marine Chapters regarded as Codex-compliant Chapters usually adhere strictly to the tenets set down by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman to the letter. There are, however, several noteworthy and substantial deviations from the Codex Astartes prescribed doctrine. Most notable among these deviations are the use of certain honourific ranks and titles within the Chapter in place of the standard Space Marine Sergeant rank, which was also a common practise amongst the ancient Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The following is a sample of some of the various honourifics and titles utilised by the Space Marines:
|Excoriators||Chief Whip (Senior Veteran Sergeant)|
|Excoriators||Veteran Squad Whip (Veteran Sergeant)|
|Excoriators||Squad Whip (Sergeant)|
|Excoriators||Second Whip (Sergeant, Assistant Squad Leader)|
|Sons of Horus||Chieftain|
Traditionally, in Codex-compliant Chapters, a Sergeant's badge of rank is a red skull displayed on their left shoulder plate and a red helmet. The legacy of the red-coloured helm hails back to the Great Crusade and the beginning of the Horus Heresy eras in the early 31st Millennium. Within the Ultramarines Legion, the red-colouration once meant that the Space Marine that bore it was marked for discipline and censure -- a mark of shame.
But during the Battle of Calth in the early 31st Millennium this changed, when a lone, censured Astartes named Sergeant Aeonid Thiel used unorthodox tactics and strategy to wage war with all ferocity against the Ultramarines former brethren, the Chaos Space Marines of the Word Bearers, who had woefully betrayed both the Ultramarines and the Imperium. When Roboute Guilliman led a boarding party of 50 Ultramarines aboard an orbital platform commandeered by the Word Bearers, Sergeant Thiel ordered that the Astartes accompanying him paint their helmets red because the Word Bearers' traitorous attack had demolished the Ultramarines' normal command hierarchy and Vox communications had become unreliable. The Primarch had made clear that he wanted firm and simple visual cues for the chain of command during their assault on the station, and Sergeant Thiel's innovation was quickly used by other squad leaders.
Following the events on Calth, Guilliman declared that from that time forward, in recognition of the heroism and original thinking displayed by Sergeant Thiel, the red-colouration of the helm would be considered a badge of honour instead of censure amongst the Ultramarines. In the ten millennia since the Battle of Calth, the Sergeants of the Ultramarines and several other Codex-compliant Chapters continue to paint their helmets red to signify the honour accorded to the Astartes who achieve this rank. Veteran Sergeants have a red helmet with a white stripe running front to back along the centre of the helm. Veterancy may also be indicated by an Imperial Laurel honour marking or a white laurel painted around the crown of the helmet.
- Combi-Melta, -flamer or -plasma
- Storm Bolter
- Plasma Pistol
- Power Weapon
- Power Fist
- Melta Bombs
- Teleport Homer
- Scout Armour (Scout Squad Sergeant only)
- Astartes Shotgun (Scout Squad Sergeant only)
- Jump Pack (Assault Squad Sergeant only)
- Terminator Armour (Terminator Squad Veteran Sergeant only)
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 24
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 21, 34, 59, 64
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pp. 59, 65
- Insignium Astartes, pg. 20
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 16-17, 32, 39-40, 72-74, 187-190, 207-208, 214-215, 238, 253-257, 263-264, 267-270, 280-281