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Cover of The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer

The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer is a standard-issue Imperial text that covers a vast variety of topics about service in the Astra Militarum. This book is possessed by all members of the Astra Militarum, often called the Imperial Guard, as part of their standard-issue equipment.

The Primer is a basic guide that details everything a Guardsman needs to know: principles and regulations of the Astra Militarum, issued arms, attire, apparatus, and equipment, basic battlefield policy and Astra Militarum organisation and structure, elementary battlefield medical instructions, and a detailed guide on the foes of the Imperium.

No Guardsman should ever be found without possession of a copy of the Uplifting Primer, for the punishment for its loss or absence is severe.


Devotional icon inside the Primer: "The Emperor watches over those that fight in His name!"

The Primer is a small, black-covered book issued to all Guardsmen in the Imperial Guard that is full of prayers and descriptions of basic tasks an infantryman must perform. Troopers are encouraged to read and memorise most of the Primer, though disgruntled troopers often refer to these books as "toilet-paper." 

Some sections of the Primer appear to be a subtle political satire directed against the policies of the Imperium of Man itself from a loyal, yet disgruntled Guardsman.

The best example of this is the Primer's sections on Duty to Commissars, the Imperial Guard's political officers who are rarely popular with the rank-and-file troopers.

The reason more veteran Guardsmen look down on the contents of the Primer is that many passages are either Imperial propaganda, exaggeration or outright lies, with the passage describing Genestealers being weak, slow and sluggish beasts often cited as the most blatant example.

While it is true that many descriptions either aggrandise the efficiency of the average Guardsman's equipment or minimise the threat of the foe, the core content of the book, with its quick references, solid descriptions and numerous passages of useful advice, has saved the life of many a Guardsman since it was first issued many standard centuries ago.

Contents of the Primer

There exists many different versions of the Primer, depending on the region of the Imperium where it was printed.

More advanced and detailed versions of the Primer exist for Guardsmen serving in "specialised" formations like an armoured regiment or a drop trooper regiment who need to know more than the basic duties required of infantrymen.

However, all versions have the same core content in common that is described below.

Foreword and Introduction

The beginning of the book contains a foreword to the Primer written by a senior Imperial Guard officer, along with forms intended to identify the Guardsman, his known sanitary requirements and who to notify in case of his or her death.

Chapter 1: Principles and Regulations

This section contains all the rules a Guardsman must adhere to in all circumstances, along with an introduction to the purpose of training, and what to do when on guard duty. These rules are to be abided by at all times, and ignorance of them is not considered a valid excuse since every Guardsman is expected to have read the Primer and keep it on his or her person at all times.

Chapter 2: Issued Arms, Attire, Apparatus and Equipment

This long section contains a lengthy description of all the wargear issued to a Guardsman upon his induction into the Imperial Guard, along with detailed instructions for correct usage and maintenance.

Special attention and extra information are provided in the Lasgun paragraph, the Autopistol paragraph, the Frag Grenade paragraph and the Rebreather paragraph, as those are the most vital pieces of equipment for a Guardsman.

At the end of the chapter is a short description of the additional, more specialised wargear a Guardsman might request or be issued for special assignments, with the admonition that training for such gear will only be given when the situation requires it.

Chapter 3: Imperial Guard Organisation, Structure and Basic Battlefield Policy

The Primer includes many easy to understand pictures and schemas in order to illustrate a point; here, the correct usage of a Rebreather.

This very lengthy section contains first a schematised but comprenhensive description of the Astra Militarum's chain of command, the multiple ranks and those "externals" (commissars, Enginseers, priests of the Adeptus Ministorum, etc.) who the Guardsman might encounter in the course of his service, as well as the proper behaviour when encountering such personnel, many of whom will technically rank senior to most enlisted Guardsmen.

There then follows a section describing the organisation of a standard Astra Militarum company, and the additional duties a Guardsman will be called upon to perform if he gets drafted into a Heavy Weapons Team, as well as a basic description of each heavy weapon used by the Guard.

Next are instructions for how to deal with many of the different situations a Guardsman is certain to encounter during his or her career:

  • Map Reading: Details on how to read a map and how to calibrate a compass correctly.
  • Column Movement: Details of what to do in case the Guardsman is called upon to perform as a scout for a marching column.
  • Movement and Cover: General tips and tricks about the terrain and how to use it to one's advantage.
  • Connecting File: Details of what to do in case the Guardsman is called upon to perform as a linking element between different marching columns.
  • Anti-aircraft Security and Protection: This paragraph basically reminds the Guardsman to always remain vigilant and to remain motionless if an aircraft is spotted so as to not attract it. He is admonished to get to cover if at all possible when facing an airstrike.
  • Anti-Tank Security and Protection: This section basically says to always remain vigilant. When enemy armour is spotted; to use trenches, foxholes or natural obstacles as cover, and let the Heavy Weapon Squads deal with the threat. Only if the tank gets too close must the regular Guardsmen expose themselves to fire at its vision slits or make use of an armour-piercing Krak Grenade when available.
  • Protection Against Gas, Chemical and Bio-chemical Threats: This section describes the physical symptoms to look out for in the event of the use of chemical or biological weapons by the foe, and reminds the Guardsman to call out an alarm before putting on his Rebreather, and to never remove it if not cleared by a superior officer.
  • Patrols and Ambushing: Describes what to look out for when patrolling, and how to set up a successful ambush.
  • Storming a Room: Describes what to do when fighting inside a building.
  • Behind Enemy Lines: General contingencies for what to do if by mishap a Guardsman becomes cut off from his unit.
  • Warp Transit: Details the additional duties of a Guardsman during Warp Transit, mainly to be watchful for Warp psychosis, and to be extra mindful of discipline as the enclosed environment of a voidship is hard on one's temper and nerves. 
  • Sanitation
  • Survival Techniques: Describes some basic survival techniques, where to look for water in various environments, and a few hunting tips.

Chapter 4: Armour and Tank Recognition, Affiliated and Enemy Variants

This chapter deals with armour, provides a side view of each of the most common vehicles used by the Imperial Guard, as well as a description of the most commonly encountered Ork and Asuryani armoured vehicles.

It also includes a small paragraph about identifying the weak spots on such metal behemoths.

Chapter 5: Know Your Foe

This chapter includes a lengthy description of OrksEldar and Tyranids, as well as smaller paragraphs about other xenos, and a small paragraph about servants of the Ruinous Powers.

Chapter 6: Elementary Battlefield Medical Instruction

This chapter includes a general description of the Human body, and methods to deal with the types of injuries commonly encountered on a battlefield.

Methods for field triage and moving wounded comrades are described in detail, and a list with the necessary medication for the most common afflictions in the Imperium of Man is furnished as well.

Addendum: Crimson Pages

This chapter includes all the primary benedictions to the God-Emperor, litanies, prayers, inspirational quotes and uplifting creeds used by the Adeptus Ministorum and held in common by most religious Guardsmen.

It also includes the Adeptus Mechanicus' prescribed litanies to placate the Machine Spirits of the Guardsman's wargear when using it in the field and when performing routine maintenance tasks.

Damocles Gulf Edition

The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer - Damocles Gulf Edition cover

There is another edition of the Primer, known as the The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer - Damocles Gulf Edition (LMXII Edition, I Impression), which contains a specially commissioned section that was created for the men and women of the Astra Militarum who participated in the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

This was the first military conflict fought between the Imperium of Man and the rapidly expanding T'au Empire in the Lithesh Sector of the Ultima Segmentum in the galaxy's Eastern Fringes during the late 41st Millennium.

Onward to Imperial victory!; Propaganda poster of the Imperial forces in the Damocles Gulf Crusade

This additional information was commissioned by the Departmento Munitorum as a supplemental addendum to all preceding editions to provide a guide to warfare against the Imperium's newest xenos foe. All Guardsmen deployed to the Damocles Gulf were issued this special edition of the Primer.

Contents of the Damocles Gulf Edition

As mentioned above, the Damocles Gulf Edition of the Primer was designed for troops facing the T'au specifically. However, the core contents about the workings of the Imperial Guard, proper handling of weapons, materiel and proper behaviour in combat remain unchanged.

Below is a summary of what was specifically added or modified in the Primer to deal with the T'au menace.

Foreword and Introduction

The beginning of the Damocles Gulf Edition Primer contains an inspirational introduction written by a senior Cardinal of the Adeptus Ministorum.

Chapter 1: The Theatre of War

This section contains a brief treatise about the T'au xenos' dark character and their upstart plans to usurp Mankind's manifest destiny to rule the Milky Way Galaxy, and notes on how the T'au will be severely chastised in the blazing fires of the Emperor's fury.

This section also contains important information in regards to the Imperial campaign and a guide to the Eastern Fringes.

Chapter 2: The T'au

This section contains a close examination of the T'au's mentality, physical and physiological weaknesses and how to exploit them.

Chapter 3: Know Your Foe

This section contains a brief introduction to the various Tau warrior types, their equipment, accoutrements and methods of war, including notes on the foul alien mercenaries such as the Kroot that they recruit into their ranks.

Chapter 4: Addendum - Common Prayers, Litanies and Uplifting Text

This Chapter contains common prayers, litanies, and uplifting texts for all soldiers fighting in the Damocles Gulf Crusade.


  • The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer (Sourcebook) by Matt Ralphs
  • The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer: Damocles Gulf Edition (Sourcebook) by Matt Ralphs