- "And of the Assault Marine so do I decree: He shall descend upon the perfidious foe as an Angel of Judgement from on high. Let the jump pack be his wings, and the roar of its engines a hymn of retribution. Let the chainsword be his sceptre of decree, its harsh voice singing joyfully with each and every blow. With it shall the Assault Marine bring bloody retribution to the heretic, the traitor and all alien aggressors who trespass on the Emperor's domain. So will the Assault Marine be the hunter of warlords and the slayer of kings. His armour shall run slick with the life-blood of the vanquished, and all shall honour his name."
An Assault Marine is a Space Marine who is equipped with weapons that are specialised towards melee combat at close quarters and serves as part of an Assault Squad. The term Assault Marine refers to Imperial Space Marines equipped in such a manner; Chaos Space Marines have similar units called Chaos Raptors. Assault Marines are powerful melee fighters able to best almost any opponent in the bloody close-quarters melee fighting that is such a common feature of warfare in the 41st Millennium. Each Assault Squad consists of up to 10 Battle-Brothers of whom one will be the unit leader with the rank of sergeant. All of the Astartes in the squad excel at close quarters combat, have received additional specialist training and have become highly experienced in melee combat after countless encounters with the Emperor's enemies.
The sergeant of an Assault Squad is an Astartes who has undergone additional special training in leadership and small unit tactics. He may have fought in enough battles for his Chapter to qualify as a Veteran. Such warriors are often promoted to special command duties or transferred to the 1st Company in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters. Veteran sergeants are highly-valued by their company captain as they improve the capabilities of the squads under their command. The sergeant's badge of rank is a red skull displayed on the left shoulder plate of his armour and he is further distinguished by his red helmet. Veteran-status Sergeants were a red helmet with a white stripe in its center.
All the members of the Assault Squad fight with a weapon in each hand. Usually this is a pistol and sword combination but it is not uncommon for them to use mauls, axes, Power Fists and other, more exotic close combat melee weapons. Individual Chapters favour particular weapons for their Assault Squads but the majority stick to the classic pairing of Bolt Pistol and Chainsword. The whole squad will also carry Frag Grenades or Krak Grenades. Other grenade types are occasionally used on special missions but are generally restricted to officers and squad leaders.
Some of the Astartes in the squad may have fought in enough battles for their Chapter to earn Veteran status. They may continue to serve with the Assault Squad for a short time but eventually they will be promoted to special duties in a Command Squad or advanced to the 1st Company which is comprised of only Veteran Marines. In this way the ranks of the Chapter's most elite company are replenished. In the Ultramarines Chapter, Veterans are distinguished by their white helmets.
The Assault Squad's role in combat is to strike hard and fast at vulnerable points in the enemy's formation and overwhelm their opponents in the ensuing melee. Jump Packs give the squad's Astartes incredible speed and maneuverability and the Assault Marines are experts in using them. However, the Assault Squads can also fight as Assault Bike or Land Speeder squadrons or indeed be deployed from just about any of the standard Space Marines transport or armoured vehicles like a a Rhino or a Razorback. This all-around combat proficiency provides an Astartes Force Commander great flexibility in deciding how, when and where to use the awesome fighting power of his Assault Squads.
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), p. 60
- Insignium Astartes, p. 20