The Beacon is concentrated civilization. -Warlord Hines, First General, 462 AF
The soldiers who serve in the Beacon are trained in swordsmanship not because it is showy or flashy, but because wielding a blade is the most effective way to defend themselves against the variety of creatures who are trying to kill them.
Beacon soldiers patrol the Wall at each of the seven gates, and send detachments into the southern provincial farmholds to preserve stability. They utilize the monasteries as staging areas or occupy a farmhold and respond as the needs of the region demand. Service is not compulsory; a tour of twenty consecutive years is rewarded with lifetime chops (advanced economic status) in the Old City.
Beacon soldiers are trained in and perform many duties besides defense. They are the engineers of the provinces, building and maintaining both the forts around the gates of the Wall and the holds that they serve in out in the provinces and beyond. They are, in the Old City, an adjunct to the council, acting as the enforcement arm for the laws that dictate a mage's behavior; this is more or less true in the provinces as well.