All of a battle company’s marines may have been in the 8th and 6/7th companies. There is every reason to expect that the battle companies would take only marines who have been through the full course of reserve duties. The marines may then be used in the squads they are best suited to, but should always be able to fill any duty.
It’s not necessary to say that they were previously in “assault squads.” They were in a company that only deploys assault squads, and then in a further company that often uses bike or speeder squads. The progression is from scout to devastator to assault to tactical company. Transfer between companies does not mean that there are types of marine to be transferred between. They are all battle brothers, they are not usually called assault-brothers or devastator-brothers. Mat Ward may use more specific language, but the effect of going from ninth to eighth company is sufficient, there is no reason to specify that they go between different types of marine or squad.
Angels of Death is identical to Ultramarines on the topic of reserve bikers and speeders. Since the Ravenwing probably operates as a whole to search areas comprehensively, they do not provide the same services as normal companies’ bikes. The remaining battle and reserve companies may be reduced in materiel, especially in antigrav, but there is no reason to expect they wouldn’t be nominally capable of fulfilling their codex roles.
Ravenwing are reconnaissance bikers. Assault squads use bikes squads as responsive or auxiliary fast attack units. Tactical squads use bikes as massed or confrontational tactical units. They are all used in different contexts, and don’t have to be the same just because they have similar equipment. As long as a squad is the seventh or eighth of a battle company, its role is to reinforce, flank, or press, and as long as long as a squad is one of the first through sixth, its role is to contest space. The roles will be the same regardless of equipment, and this is why there are only assault squads instead of distinct bike, speeder, unmounted close combat, mechanized close combat, and jump pack squads. Tactical squads don't have to be on foot or mechanized, they are just the main squads.
Devastators carry heavy weapons for dealing with specialized targets. If they contested space or otherwise exposed themselves to attack, they would need to defend themselves and engage in small scale, "tactical" action, and would not be able to provide concentrated support against specific targets as they are meant to. Their jobs have fewer complications than other squads' jobs. Assault squads present themselves directly to the enemy, but they do it selectively. They are meant to be free of engagement, so that when there is an opportunity to exploit weakness, they can take it. This is the difference between a assault and tactical bikers. Tactical bike squads and tactical mechanized squads constantly engage in pressing the enemy and drawing their fire so that devastator and assault squads can make focused actions. Even in a battle company deployed as tactical bikers and assault bikers, the two groups will be distinct.
It would be ridiculous to have a list entry that says an assault squad may exchange its jump packs and one weapon each for a bikes, and if so are limited to eight models but may have an attack bike &c &c, and then another entry that says a tactical squad may exchange its bolters for bikes, but may not take a heavy weapon and may take &c &c &c. It would be even worse to do the same with "may replace all models in the squad with half as many land speeders." Land speeder squads would still have a sergeant somewhere, and a flamer guy. It's just convenient this way. This is an issue of being fooled by third edition again. It's like saying that Librarians have the authority of captains and scout squads are more common than devastators.
When the distinction was still between squads, characters, and support, there was no need to specify that a bike squad was one thing or another. The bike squad entry was just the way to get marines who rode bikes, and it was as possible to have an army of them as much as an army of jump packers or veterans. Tactical squads can be and are used all the time as tactical bikers, just like assault squads are used all the time as assault bikers.
Edited by voi shet magir, 12 January 2012 - 04:19 AM.