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.
Modern Assault Marines can trace their origins to over ten thousand standard years ago during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. Legion Assault Squads were the rapid attack formations of the ancient Space Marine Legions. These Jump Pack-equipped Legion Assault Squads were rapid attack forces whose wargear was optimised towards close-quarters fighting and hit-and-run tactics. The use of Jump Packs allowed Legion Assault Squads to move with greater speed across the battlefield and impact the enemy line with savage force, leaping past intervening terrain and open defences to engage their adversaries in bloody melee. The needs of even such limited flight systems, however, precluded the use of heavy weaponry or extensive munitions supplies. Jump Pack-equipped Assault Squads were not embraced to the same extent by all of the Legions for reasons of combat doctrine, temperament or simple resource difficulties. The Legion Assault Squad was the precursor of the modern Assault Squads of the Adeptus Astartes still utilised in the late 41st Millennium.
Assault Marines Organisation
The Lord Executioner serves as the officer who is the master of a Chapter's Assault Company. He is a brutal and direct individual, not so much given to glittering heroics and flamboyant challenges as short, bloody and efficient close combats. Clutching his favoured master-crafted melee weapon in his hands, he strides purposely forward in battle, the expression of a stone cold killer writ on his face as he heads towards his grim duty. His Artificer Armour is often impressively detailed with embossed skulls, scrollwork and multiple Purity Seals. Of all the Space Marine Captains within a Chapter, the Lord Executioner is the most menacing.
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 elite 1st Company of the Chapter 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 Assault 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 don a red helmet with a white stripe in its centre.
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 Space 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.
Assault Marines can be equipped with a variety of wargear. Some may carry the weapons with which they most excel, while others carry specialised wargear unique to the mission at hand. Most carry a pistol, either a Bolt Pistol or a Plasma Pistol, and complement it with a melee weapon such as a Chainsword or Power Sword.
Assault Squad Wargear
- Plasma Pistol
- Storm Shield
- Power Weapon or Lightning Claw
- Power Fist
- Thunder Hammer or pair of Lightning Claws
- Melta Bombs
- Combat Shield
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 60
- Insignium Astartes, pg. 20
- White Dwarf July 2013 (US), "Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse," pg. 50