The mercenary corps of the Gudersnipe Foundation, and its main fighting force. While students from Gudersnipe School sometimes go into combat, the most fighting is by the Blade. Because the Blade has an extensive support-system to ensure constant supply lines, materials, and equipment, only 1 of every 5 soldiers who sign up for the Blade will see actual combat.
Crimson Blade Regulars
'Regulars' can be all members of the Blade, but specifically the normal combat troops, who have no special or expanded training and for whom combat, while a probability, is not the primary role.
An example of a "combat" role filled by Regulars would be border patrol. Combat is unlikely and not anticipated, but a fighting force is a requirement. The Regulars usually come in second and serve as a peace-keeping force or take on battles not anticipated to be difficult.
Crimson Blade Elite
The elites have monkies. The Crimson Blade Elite are the primary combat forces of the Gudersnipe Foundation, deployed specifically to situations where combat is expected. The elites train rigorously and are considered the finest soldiers in the whole Foundation, more highly regarded than the student forces of the school.
The Elite are always the combat forces deployed on ships, though some ships are crewed entirely by elites. Only the combat soldiers are strictly considered Elites in this case, though the rest of the crew are still the finest the Blade can muster.
The Elites were created during a reorganization preceding the Ninety-nine-years war. Foundation citizens were concerned that individuals who had only enlisted because it was a steady job, would find themselves thrust into combat. At the time, there were combat roles and support roles, but no real division.
The Foundation responded by further separating its forces into regulars and elites. The initial separation was determined by length of enlistment, physical conditioning, and phsychological evaluations. Those deemed "able and willing" became the first Elites.
The elites were reorganized repeatedly as the Ages progressed and requirments changed. Equipment was eventually standardized between the two divisions, but Elites were always given preference for combat roles.
Crimson Blade Elite Raiders
Within the Elites lies a further elite force. Known officially as the Crimson Blade Elite Raiders, but typically abbreviated to "raiders", they are the very best soldiers the Blade can produce. Often Raider teams are led by Gudersnipe School graduates. They are strictly combat-oriented teams, though are trained to operate vessels and all manner of equipment when the need arises.
The Raiders are the only division within the Elites who receive special gear, though all Elites undergo additional training over the regulars. Specialized attack groups, such as the Foundation's mech assualt forces, are organized among the Raider teams.
The Elite Raiders actually pre-date the formation of the Elites. During the days of the old Gudersnipe Army during the Mage Wars, the Elite Raiders already existed, and were kept as an elite unit within the regular Crimson Blade. When the elites were initially formed in the late Golden Age, they were initially planned as an expansion of the elite raiders.
The raiders were, however, considered "too elite" for the needs of a merely "specifically combat-oriented fighting force". Thus, the Crimson Blade Elites were formed, with the raiders becoming a unit within them. For a short time, they retained their individual status, making the official designation 'Crimson Blade Elite Elite Raiders'. This was of course quickly rectified, making the raiders offically the 'Crimson Blade Elite Raiders'.
One particular unit of raiders, however, liked the idea and stuck with it. Renaming themselves the "eels" in honor of the double-E, these became the top unit within the elite raiders, thus making them an elite unit within an elite unit within another elite unit, which the Eels wanted from the begining.
The "Space Marine" Question
Nowhere in the Gudersnipe Foundation is the term "Space Marine" ever used officially. Some combat soldiers stationed aboard wet-navy task forces have used the term 'Marine', but as of the Fourth Age all extensions of the Blade use the same organizational structure and terminology.
Within Gudersnipe School, combat-role assignments aboard student-run ships have been jokingly identified as Space Marines. When these jokes make it into the official report, it leads to the mistaken conclusion that the school does operate teams of Space Marines.