Thursday, 20 May 2010

Training marines: the codex way

I have been a scout fan (some would say fanatic) since the release of the 5th edition codex, I play with a whole army of scouts and only scouts, and since they occupy most of my time, I figured I would learn more about their background.
After reading a few black library books and fanfic stories, I came to the conclusion that when a marine dies in a battle company replacements are brought in straight from the scout company, however after looking into it a little further I want to challenge this mindset and explore all facets of a space marines training and promotion from birth to death to find the unequivocal truth.
I will be using Ultramarines as a template for this article, utilising the 5th edition space marine codex as my main source of information.

At heresy's end

Guilliman started to write the codex astartes several years after the death of Horus, his idea was to prevent another schism, most of us know how it affected the majority of marines but how were scouts affected?
In the horus heresy books, some details of the legions were shown, there were no reserve companies as such, and new recruits (scouts) formed up alongside fully fledged marines in the same “company” (note a company was very large, some suggest up to 1000 marines), casualties were replaced straight from the companies own scout squads. Some information can be garnered from the book “Horus rising” where Loken chooses replacements for his squads, and little Horus helps him see different qualities in his scouts.
With the new codex structure Scouts were given their own company with its own structure and heirachy.

Recruiting aspirants

Each space marine chapter has its own method of screening potential new space marines, some chapters use barbaric methods, others more refined and humane in comparison.
In the Horus heresy book flight of the Eisenstein the death guard discuss some of the challenges of the recruits, involving crawling through razor sharp thorn-bushes with venomous spines and surviving in a toxic environment. Modern day blood angels are trapped in sarchophogi for a year whilst the physical changes can be wrought on their mortal frames. It seems these practices echo the spirit at the heart of the relevant chapter!
The following is a small part of the short story of dreadnought Ironclaw published in white dwarf:

Quote (Dreadnought Ironclaw)
[Brother Severus arrived on Macragge as one of sixteen aspirants who had triumphed in competitive games between Quintarn, Tarentus and Masali. These games are held between the triple worlds each seven years to determine which youths should have the honour of attempting to join the Ultramarines Chapter on Macragge. The games that Severus participated in were noted as particularly spirited and hard-fought on this occasion, with over a third of the participants killed or seriously injured.]

The ‘triple worlds’ makes up only a small part of Ultramar and we can draw a few conclusions from this story:
Firstly that these competitions happen at constant intervals ensuring a steady supply of new aspirants, which combined with the rest of Ultramar probably means a lot of new recruits.
And that the Ultramarines aren’t as barbaric as some chapters and many of its failed aspirants are allowed to live.
Most chapters recruit from deadly worlds1, Ultramar seems to be the exception, as its well documented that the worlds of Ultramar are almost utopian and the people enjoy a measure of peace. One can only assume that the high recruitment rate of Ultramarines is due to the large number of high population planets within Ultramar.

[Aspirants must always be chosen when they are young, before they become to mature to accept the gene-seed that will turn them into space marines]

Chapters choose children and/or young teenagers that are physically and mentally strong to become new space marines, these aspirants will join the tenth company and train as space marine scouts.

Size and structure of the tenth company

There is no set size for a scout company as recruitment is not a fixed amount2. Its probably more appropriate in this case to say that the Ultramarines tenth company size is dictated by the casualty rate amongst the battle companies rather than the rate of recruitment, this is because Ultramar has a high rate of recruitment and i have shown in the example above it is a regular influx. Obviously the numbers would still vary depending on the quality of the aspirants.
Whats not made clear is the decisions regarding recruitment, i.e if no or few casualties have been incurred and the scout company is overly large, will the Ultramarines forgo recruitment for a period or does it continue as a matter of tradition?
We do know from the horus heresy that Guilliman enacted an emergency recruitment drive to bring the legion to full strength after the numerous casualties caused by the word bearers, does the same thing exist 10000 years later?
What the above does tell us is that as soon as the organs and geneseed has been implanted the aspirants train and serve as scouts, there is no/little intermediate period where they are kept isolated so they can be observed. So we can safely assume that all new space marine scouts are teenagers.

Page 17 of the 5th ed codex gives very little information on the exact make up of the 10th company, all that’s stated is:
Captain antilochus: master of recuits.
Scout squads.

However we can include chaplain and apothecary to this list as every company includes both3.
One question that still remains to be answered is does the master of recruits have a command squad?
The tenth has no colours or banners so there would be no need for a banner bearer, and would there be a company champion? Could he be the scout sergeant that best excels at close combat?We know they have an apothecary, but is he a combatant?
Or does he minister to the health and development of the recruits from behind the scenes, a job im sure that keeps him far busier then other apothecaries. Perhaps he is a combatant as im sure the scout company has a far larger casualty rate and will need on the spot medical treatment.
We do know the presence of an apothecary on the battlefield is not absolutely necessary since scouts cannot be used as a source of geneseed. This is due to the maturation necessary for geneseed to be cultivated.4
As all captains are accompained by command squads5, the tenth company would be no different, this command squad could possibly have different titles and duties to regular battle companies. This would go some way to explaining the postition of a banner bearer whilst the tenth has no actual colours, in this case he would be given another duty, perhaps as relic bearer or something equally as poignant and important to the tenth!
It is often an assumption that command squads are drawn from the company itself, skilled veterans who are awaiting promotion to the first company. This isn’t completely accurate, usually command squads are drawn from the finest warriors available6 which to me suggests they are chosen from amongst the chapters veterans. Tenth company command squads may be treated a little differently, i shall attempt to cover this later on in this article.

So to summarise, the tenth company has:
Captain Antilochus
Command squad of some description.
Scouts (whos number is in a constant state of flux)

Monitoring scouts and detecting potential psykers

The tenth company is home to at least one apothecary3 who would be responsible for the monitoring of scouts physical health and the changes that will make them true space marines.7
Physical well being isnt the only concern of the chapter and tenth company, some scouts will show psychic potential and need to be trained by the librarium. We know that no librarians are actually attached to any companies, this indicates that any tests or training are undertaken by the librarium itself7 under the direction of the chief librarian.
A question that often gets asked is whether or not scouts continue to train with the tenth if they are determined to show psychic talent?, we know this to be the case but they will recieve extra training from the librarium aswell.8
There are some sources that describe psyker scouts, one example is the soul drinkers book “Chapter war”.


Quote (5th ed codex page 66: Scout squad)
[When first accepted into a space marine chapter, a new recruit joins the ranks of the tenth company as a space marine scout. He is placed under the tutelage of a sergeant….A space marine scout has much to learn. Not only must he become accustomed to the many biological engineered enhancements which are at work in his body, but he must learn the litany of battle which will fortify and strengthen him. Through a gruelling regime that lasts for many months, the recruit will learn how to use the battlegear on which his life depends, and he will get his first real chance to fight the enemies of mankind.Throughout his entire tenure as a space marine scout, the recruit is watched over and taught by his sergeant, his actions guided and judged as he strikes the foe at the weakest point with bolter, shotgun and blade. As his training progresses, the scout will grow proficient with many other weapons of death, such as the heavy bolter, sniper rifle, missile launcher and melta bomb]

This suggests a sort of scout ‘boot camp’ in which they learn the necessary skills before they can fight for the chapter, this “many months”. During this time it seems they use basic weapons only of “bolter, shotgun and blade” the other weapons being used against real enemies in the heat of battle as time progresses.
Once clear of the 'boot camp' and on active duty with the tenth, scouts will learn and perfect valuable hit and run tactics9 and be trained with many different weapons, towards the latter end of thier tenure as scouts they will master the art of mounted warfare10, this may take several years to accomplish9.

To summarise:
Its safe to assume every scouts training is similar, and they all learn set skills before going on to the next step. I have jokingly in the past likened scout training to hogwarts:
Year one: basic infiltration.
Year two: basic weapons,
Year three: sniper training

Whilst a gross exaggeration is does have a ring of truth, all scouts are required to master set skills in a set order. However due to deaths within scout squads and replacements coming in, i find it more likely that the training doesnt have a rigid structure. i.e, they dont spend a year training with sniper rifles and go on to bikes, instead they commit to standard training with basic weapons before active duty, and once they are on the battlefield they use the weapons necessary for the job, learning by doing.
It is down to the assigned tutor (sergeant) to determine their abilites with each skill/weapon to determine when they can progress. This way its possible to keep squad structure in place and yet have scouts of differing levels of skill/progression within the squad.

Progression of a scout in the tenth company would be:
Basic training (many months) ---> hit and run tactics/advanced weapons (several years) ---> Mounted assault with scout bikes (i also assume LSS)

Promotion of a scout

We do have a definitive promotion scale of a newly promoted scout within the chapter:
Scout to Devastator11
Devastator to Assault12
Assault to Tactical13

This seems to go against some authors who seem to think scouts are promoted straight into battle companies, the white dwarf story of Dreadnought Ironclaw shows some of the promotion of brother severus.14
He was mentioned being a scout then in a reserve tactical company before going into a battle company, it wasn’t shown but its safe to assume using the above logic that he spent time in both the devastator and assault companies too.
The next question is, do scouts go to the reserve devestator company or straight into a battle companies devestator squad?
Since we know that battle companies draw replacements from reserve companies15, probably due to experience, then logic dictates the scouts go to the reserve companies.
This gives us a progression of

scout ---> reserve ---> battle company

this is also supported by the dreadnough ironclaw story, he was promoted from 6th to 3rd
However it is still difficult for us to say with certainty that the progression for all scouts would be:

Scout ---> reserve devastator ---> reserve assault ---> reserve tactical ---> battle company (as tac marine)

This certainly true to a point, any marine in a reserve tactical company has to have followed the line of progression laid out, so the above would be true for alot of marines... Im pretty sure though with some marines making a career from assault or dev duties16 that they would skip certain steps and go straight from a reserve company to a battle company i.e

reserve assault ---> battle company missing the inbetween steps.

Its certainly the case that the battle companies would take the most skilled marines from the reserve companies.
Its important to note that the codex goes into detail about the newly promoted scouts role into devastators, they primarily work as support for more experienced marines, going into battle armed with bolters until they have proven themselves worthy to carry heavy weapons.

Telion and scout sergeants:

Are scout sergeants veterans of battle/first companies or are they scouts themselves who have stayed with the tenth in order to instruct the newer recruits?

Quote (Insignium Astartes pg. 30)
[Scout Sergeants are Marines who have received special training in leadership and in Scout operations. They fight in the same light armour as the other scouts. The Sergeant may have fought enough battles to qualify as a veteran. Such Veterans are often promoted to special command duties or transfered to the 1st Company. In the Ultramarines the Sergeant's badge of rank is a red skull displayed on the left shoulder pad.]

This one paragraph tells us almost everything we need to know about the origins of a scout sergeant, first off that he is definately a fully fledged marine and has been marked for special training, these marines are also of veteran standard.
The latter part of the quote describes how the experienced marine has fought enough battles to become a veteran, and these veterans are either promoted to the first company or given special command duties i.e becoming a scout instructor. So it seems it is a choice for veterans to make, either 1st company or tenth company with special training to become a sergeant.
This gives us a definative line of progression for a scout sergeant

Scout ---> Devastator ---> Assault ---> Tactical ---> Scout sergeant.

However it is possible for a marine to bypass some of these steps of progression/promotion. This is due to certain marines making a career from either assault or devastator duties, either because they showed great skill in these areas or because they are unable to cope with the strict nature of tactical duties.16
What we can say though is those who go on to follow this path can find themselves promoted to sergeant within thier chosen fields, this argument is supported by the Iron skull award and tells us that promotion within a squad does happen.
After being promoted to sergeant (example of an assault squad) and performing feats of heroism, a marine gets the opportunity to transfer to the chapters first company as a veteran.17 However it seems there is a choice to be made, instead of joining the first company a marine (of veteran ability) can choose 'special command duties' like becoming a scout sergeant.18 This also suggests they may join command squads.
In this case its possible to be a scout sergeant (or veteran of the first company) without having ever spent time as a tactical marine. the progression (in the example discussed above) would be:

Scout ---> Devestator ---> Assault ---> Assault sergeant ---> Scout sergeant or first company veteran.

This means that even Telion who refuses to leave the tenth company19 was once a fully fledged marine, in Telions case he followed the entire progression from scout to tactical marine learning all the different skills.20

Land speeder storms

Are Land speeder storms attached to the tenth or are they part of the chapters armoury?
It has been argued that because storms are not dedicated transports they are requisitioned from the armoury, but without any facts to back this up its just an opinion. My own opinion is that they are part of the tenth company as they are piloted by scouts, infact I believe they are piloted by scout sergeants (seperate of the embarked squad).

Final thoughts:

Alot of this information is common knowledge, however taken together it does shed a little more light onto a scouts training.
An aspirant successful in mind and body comes to the chapter as a young teen (around 13 as a guess) 13
He spends 'many months' learning the basic skills needed to be a scout (ill assume a year) 14
Scout traning takes several years, learning the use of many different weapons and towards the end of his tenure the use of bikes (assume 7 years) 21
So a scout is about 21 years old when he takes up his power armour for the first time! and is fully trained at mounted assault, which i assume to mean the use of land speeder storms also.
The chapters librarius and Apothecarian although seperate from the tenth play a big part in the development of scouts, psyker scouts will train with the tenth until they are ready to take up power armour and are transferred to the librarius (at about 21)
We know from the codex that tech marines are fully fledged marines when they are sent to mars, so have no special training as scouts, i presume apothecaries to be the same, since they are infact veterans. There is little known about chaplains origins, but since they are spiritual leaders and pervayers of great wisdom its safe to assume they are infact experienced or veteran marines chosen by the master of sanctity.

Command squads: I want to discuss this point again now that we have most of the facts ironed out. According to the quotes shown, it is suggested that all captains have a command squad, and they are made up of 'veterans' who will be in line for promotion within the company i.e if the captain falls in battle one of the command squad will be promoted.
Now that we know the scout sergeants are infact veterans (equivalent) it wouldnt be too much of a stretch to imagine the captain may have a command squad made up from senior instructors, he would have an apothecary and the company champion could be his "number 2", his replacement should he fall.The tenth doesnt have a banner as such, but as noted above thier jobs and titles would be different, so the tenth may have thier own special place set aside... ill let your imaginations fill in the possibilities.
If this is the case and captains are promoted from within the command squad, then all tenth company captains would have been scout sergeants at some point, so they too would have the special training and knowledge of scout tactics and warfare... in short the captain IS a true scout!

A marines path

The most interesting discovery in this article is the definative promotion scale we can use for scouts to fully trained marines, barring any marine that takes up assault or dev duties as a career all marines will follow the following progression:

Scout* ---> Reserve devestator** ---> Reserve assault ---> Reserve tactical ---> battle company ---> ***

*Scouts have a three part training scheme, first is the basic training, then its intermediate training where they learn hit and run tactics and the use of the various advanced weaponry, lastly is mounted assault (scout bikers)
** Newly promoted devastator marines have to serve as spotters/guards for the heavy wepaon operators before being trusted with the heavy weapons themselves
*** Is the choice between first company or becoming a scout sergeant, though it is sometimes the case that marines will spend time in the first company before becoming a veteran sergeant in the tenth company.

Sergeants for assault and devestator squads would usually be promoted from within the squad, whilst the codex mentions that tactical squad sergeants are usually veterans brought in from the first company.


1: 5th edition codex page 10: The making of a space marine.
"Every chapter of space marines must induct new warriors into its ranks in order to survive. Most have recruited from their chapter planets and nearby worlds since the foundation of their brotherhood. This explains why many chapters are based on feral or otherwise deadly worlds – the recruiting stock is far stronger on planets where every day is a struggle to survive"

2: 5th edition codex page 16: Chapter organisation.
"The chapters 10th company is its scout company consisting of a number of scout squads. Scouts are youths who have been recruited and partially transformed into space marines. Until their physical transformation and and training is complete they fight as scouts. The codex astartes dictates no formal size for a scout company as the rate of recruitment is not a fixed amount"

3: 5th edition codex page 16: Chapter organisation.
"Each of the ten companies that comprises a chapter is led by a space marine captain and includes supernumeraries such as the companies chaplain and apothecary"

4: 5th edition codex page 17: Progenoids.
"Every space marine has these organs, one implanted in the neck and another in the chest. The organs respond to the presence of other implants in the body by creating germ cells corresponding to those implants. These germ cells grow and are stored in the progenoid organs. Mature progenoid organs can be removed and new implants artificially cultured from them. This is the only new way implants can be created"

5: 5th edition codex page 55: Command squad.
"Command squads accompany high ranking space marine officers on the field of battle. The exact nature and title of a command squads members may vary depending on a chapters organisation and the personality of a companies captain"

6: 5th edition codex page 55: Command squad.
"Service in a command squad undoubtedly speeds promotion within the chapter – most captains fills their retinues with space marines in whom the bloody skills of combat are matched by a tactical and strategic brilliance........a protégé who survives long enough to be nominated as the captains successor"

7: 5th edition codex page 56: Librarian.
"Apothecaries rigorously screen potential recruits for any sign of genetic deviation, but not all mutation is physical. Psychic talent is a mutation too….Detecting and developing nascent psykers is one of the many responsibilities of the chapters librarium"

8: 5th edition codex page 56: Librarian.
"Not only must the recruit endure everything a normal recruit would, but he must be strong enough in spirit to withstand the moulding of his mind"

9: 5th edition codex page 67: Scout bike squad.
"while scout bikers continue to perform the hit and run tactics they perfected in earlier years of service"

10: 5th edition codex page 68: Bike squad.
"The codex astartes dictates that all of a chapters assault marines, scouts and the entire 6th company should master the art of mounted warfare as part of their training regime"

11: 5th edition codex page 61: Devastator squad.
"Most devastator squads are composed of space marines who have recently completed their tours of service in the chapters scout squads"

12: 5th edition codex page 60: Assault squad.
"A space marine is commonly assigned to an assault squad after exemplary service amongst the devestators"

13: 5th edition codex page 59: Tactical squad.
"For a space marine to be assigned to a tactical squad he must have proven himself beyond doubt in all aspects of war. So it is that a space marine must complete several campaigns in both assault and devastator squads before he can earn a permanent position in one of the chapters tactical squads"

14: White dwarf: brother Severus/Dreadnought Ironclaw.
"The young Severus was accepted by the Ultramarines and successfully completed his training in 356.M41. According to records, Brother Severus's early career in the Scout Company was unremarkable, but once he came to full status as a Brother Marine he was frequently commended for his wisdom and far-sightedness. He received his Marksman Honour while a member of the 6th Company in 358.M41 in combat against Eldar pirates, and an Imperial Laurel in the following year after being wounded in the cleansing of Copul IV. In 362.M41 Brother Severus was promoted to Sergeant in the 3rd Company"

15: 5th edition codex page 16: Chapter organisation.
"The 'companies of reserve' are entirely composed of squads of the same designation. they normally act in support of the battle companies and provide a source of replacements for any casualties sufferend in line formations"

16: 5th edition codex page 59: Tactical squad.
"For a space marine to be assigned to a tacical squad he must have proven himself beyond all doubt in all aspects of war. So it is that a space marine must complete several campaigns in both assault and devastator squads before he can earn a permanent position in one of the chapters tactical squads. This progression must be earned in blood and can last for years, or even decades, depednign on the skills of the marine in question. Not all space marines make the transition.some demonstrate a talent or obsession for a particular aspect of battle that, while immensily valuable in its own way, would prove a liability in the adaptive role of a tactical squad. Other battle brothers simply lack the mental flexibility to embrace the fluidity of the tactical squads role"

17: 5th edition codex page 62: Vanguard veteran squad.
"Most such veterans have served as sergeants elsewhere.....a vanguard veteran squad is formed from those members of the 1st company that completely immerse themselves in the art of close quarter combat. Most have completed lengthy service rotations in the chapters assault squads"

18: Insignium Astartes pg. 30.
"Scout Sergeants are Marines who have received special training in leadership and in Scout operations. They fight in the same light armour as the other scouts. The Sergeant may have fought enough battles to qualify as a veteran. Such Veterans are often promoted to special command duties or transfered to the 1st Company"

19: 5th edition codex page 88: Torias Telion.
"Having been awarded fully two score battlefield commendations including the iron skull, the imperial laurel and a dozen marksman’s honour badges, Telion has earned a position in the ultramarines honour guard several times over. Nonetheless, he chooses to remain in the scout company, where by example and experience he can forge the future warriors of the chapter"

20: 5th edition codex page 88: Torias Telion.
"Telion has mastered all the martial disciplines of the space marines over his three centuries in service"

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