|This article is about the Imperial rank; for the Novel by Andy Hoare, see Commissar (Novel).|
Commissars are special Imperial officers assigned to Imperial Guard regiments and Imperial Navy ships, whose purpose is to enforce discipline and devotion to the Emperor of Mankind. Independent of the conventional Imperial Guard Hierarchy, Commissars are instead attached to the Departmento Munitorum's Commissariat and are formally part of the Militarum Tempestus.
Commissars are invariably stern and uncompromising individuals, able to keep even the most anarchic regiments in line through fear, strength and power. Every regiment has one or more attached Commissars who remain with the regiment throughout its duties. Commissars are assigned to regiments by the Departmento Munitorum's Commissariat department, which provides high-ranking commanders to Imperial Guard armies. They have authority over both the soldiers and regimental officers. Commissars have both the right and duty to immediately execute any Imperial guardsman or officer who shows cowardice or incompetence in battle. They must also ensure the regiment does not harbor the likes of Genestealer Cultists, Chaos heretics, spies, or mutants.[1a]
Personnel selected to become cadet Commissars are drawn from the Schola Progenium - Ecclesiarchy-run schools where the pupils have already received a strict Imperial Cult education. The training of Cadet Commissars lasts for an indeterminate length of time, and their advancement depends entirely upon the judgment of the full/senior Commissar responsible for their development. Training may involve deployment as part of a Commissar Training Squad and/or secondment to an individual full/senior Commissar.[Needs Citation]
Advancement beyond Cadet ranking can lead to becoming a full Commissar in their own right, or a further developmental role as a Junior Commissar.[Needs Citation] Full Commissars can be further advanced to senior roles within the Commissariat such as Commissar-Captain, Lord Commissar[1a], or Commissar-General.[Needs Citation] The exact method of advancement to these positions is unclear.
Cadet Commissars are given the standard arms and equipment of a Guardsman, although they retain their distinctive uniforms. These uniforms differ from those of a full Commissar by featuring blue trim and a specific Cadet emblem.[Needs Citation]
Their training has no set duration and a Cadet will be graduated as soon as he is deemed worthy. Part of the training of a Cadet-Commissar emphasises learning standard infantry tactics and gaining experience in situations common to standard Imperial Guardsmen. In order to ensure this, Commissar-Generals may decide to form up the Cadets under their purview into Training Squads, nine Cadets under the command of a specially chosen full Commissar.
Commissar Training Squads
Commissar Training Squads are groups of Cadet-Commissars, formed up into a fighting squad and led by a full Commissar into battle. These Cadets are then trained, under battlefield conditions, in how to live, fight and even die alongside the troops they are supposed to one day inspire and discipline. They are sent into the fiercest fighting, in which they are expected to show bravery and devotion enough to earn the respect afforded to them by standard troopers. Commissar Training Squads are highly motivated and pious fighting units and an Imperial Guard force accompanied by such a squad will consider itself destined for victory.
When a Commissar decides that a Cadet has failed in his duty to become a Commissar, but has not shown cowardice or insubordination, the Cadet is relieved and may be either sent to a Stormtrooper unit or become an officer in a penal battalion. Others volunteer for service in a Rogue Trader's entourage, and others may face darker destinies.
A subordinate role to a full Commissar, a junior aids his senior in overseeing the the regiment or ship assigned to the full Commissar, performing adjutant and investigation duties as well as Commissarial ones. Junior Commissars do appear to undertake Commissarial supervision at a regimental (or equivalent) level, starting with smaller formations, such as an individual squad.[Needs Citation]
The standard rank of Commissar, at least one is assigned to every Imperial Guard Regiment. Their duty is to oversee the morale of the regiment, enforce discipline, and inspire the men in combat.[1a] In addition, they have the power to relieve an officer of command if they suspect that officer's judgment is impaired or otherwise flawed.
Commissars are also in charge of supervising the raising of new regiments, sometimes from primitive worlds whose inhabitants are savage and do not adapt well to Imperial discipline.[1a]
Both of these roles require Commissars to lead by example, and demonstrate outstanding personal bravery on the battlefield, as an example to their men.[1a]
A rarely seen intermediate role between full Commissar and Commissar-General, the particular role of a Commissar-Captain is unclear, other than ranking above full Commissars. They have been seen to supervise at a regimental level.
The most senior known rank in the Commissariat, Commissar-Generals are highly experienced Commissars, having the additional responsibilities of assigning Commissars under their command to officers and promoting cadets to full Commissar status.
Colonel-Commissar is a very rare rank of the Imperial Guard, held usually in only extraordinary cases, and apparently referring to a Commissar who is awarded regimental command rank in the Imperial Guard itself. Though the records show the rank being held as recently as the Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Ibram Gaunt) the inherent clash between the two roles is normally seen as a threat to a regiment's discipline - Commissars maintain discipline and watch commanders, the commander leads the regiment in combat - the two roles are technically exclusive.
In theory, the Commissariat has oversight authority over all branches of the Imperial military (with the obvious exceptions of the Space Marines, the Sisters of Battle, and the soldiery of the Adeptus Mechanicus), which include Planetary Defence Forces. In practice, however, only a single Commissar is assigned to the PDF of an entire planet, or even several planets in a subsector, and so plays little to no role in these forces' activities. As a result, many of these forces are ignorant that these commissars even exist. Commissars assigned to these thankless postings are usually advanced in age, or have been subject to disciplinary action.
Some PDFs maintain their own local Commissariats. Tensions are often strained between these local units and the Imperial Commissariat, especially with issues of jurisdiction[9a], with Commissariat members even known to execute their local counterparts for overstepping their authority.
Notable PDF Commissariats
- Chaliced Commissariat- Calixis Sector PDF regiments
- Vervunhive Primary Commissariat (VHPC)- Vervun Primary[9b]
- Commissar-General Obin Heethe
- Commissar-General Delane Oktar
- Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt
- Lord Commissar Feodor Lasko
- Lord Commissar Vance Theren
- Lord Commissar Tilenus
- Lord Commissar Mardan Tula
- Lord Commissar Lukas Uhln
- Senior Commissar Chaonian
- Commissar Arden
- Commissar Fidel Arden - 7th Mordion Regiment and took part in the pacification of Flotis III
- Commissar Tomas Beije
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain
- Commissar Viktor Hark
- Commissar Holt
- Commissar Daridh Ahl Karif
- Commissar Pius Kowle[9b]
- Commissar Lorr
- Commissar Victoria Linn
- Commissar Odoski
- Commissar Genadey Novobazky[Needs Citation]
- Commissar Severina Raine
- Commissar Lukas Vander
- Commissar Broderick Worr
- Commissar Sebastian Yarrick[1b]
- Naval Commissar Sorenkus
- Junior Commissar Nahum Ludd
Ibram Gaunt (9th)
Severina Raine (8th)
Death Korps of Krieg Commissar
Steel Legion Commissar (3rd)
Commissar artwork (3rd edition)
- 1: Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition)
- 2: Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 13
- 3: White Dwarf 113 (UK) - The Pacification of Flotis III
- 4: White Dwarf 115 (UK) - Commissar Training Squads, reprinted in Warhammer 40,000 Compilation (1991), [Needs Citation]
- 5: Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook, [Needs Citation]
- 6: Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, pg. 260
- 7: Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition Rulebook, pg. 7
- 8: First and Only (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 9: Necropolis (Novel)
- 10: Honour Guard (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 11: Rebel Winter (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 52
- 12: For the Emperor (Novel), Chapter One
- 13: The Traitor's Hand (Novel), Chapter One
- 14: Death or Glory (Novel) - Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus), Editorial Note after Chapter 10, pg. 116, fn. 1
- 15: Duty Calls (Novel) - Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus), Chapter 23, pg. 449, fn. 1
- 16: Final Liberation: Warhammer Epic 40,000
- 17: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution
- 18: Codex Imperialis (Background Book), [Needs Citation]
- 19: Warhammer 40,000 Compendium, pg. 146
- 20: Avenging Son (Novel) Dramatis Personae
- 21: White Dwarf 203 (UK), pg. 67 - Wrath of Ulthwé
- 22: A Ghost Return (Short Story) — Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding (Omnibus)
|Imperial Guard Infantry|
|Command||Company Command Squad • Platoon Command Squad • Scion Command Squad • Tank Commander • Regimental Advisors • Commissar • Primaris Psyker • Tech-priest Enginseer • Priest|
|Specialists||Master of Ordnance • Breacher • Scout • Medic • Vox-Operator • Weapons Specialist • Sharpshooter • Operator|
|Troops||Infantry Squad • Heavy Weapons Squad • Special Weapons Squad • Armoured Fist Squad • Veteran Squad • Scions Squad • Penal Legion Troopers • Ogryn Squad • Ratling Squad • Psyker Battle Squad • Rough Rider Squad|
|Tempestus Scion Forces|
|Command||Commissar • Militarum Tempestus Command Squad|
|Vehicles||Taurox Prime • Valkyrie|