Training Commissars

A Commissar is a political field officer in the regiments of the Imperial Guard. They have the duty to maintain the morale of the troops on their massive campaigns, often in the face of staggering casualties. The Commissar is empowered to use any means necessary to ensure the moral safety and purity of his or her charges and is as such, regarded with a mixture of fear and admiration, as both a figure of the Emperor’s uncompromising Will in the face of danger and the swift dispenser of that Will upon any Guardsmen found wanting, on the field and off.

The History of the Commissariat

The Imperial Army of the Great Crusade was organized from the fighting men of the worlds liberated by the Space Marine Legions of the Emperor of Mankind. They were used almost exclusively for garrison and pacification roles on both their home, and foreign worlds, throughout the early stages of the Crusade, but by the later half, were fighting offensive battles, and supplementing the Legions’ power as they began to be stretched thinner. The Army was organized with no particular standardization, and Regiments ranged from barbarians wielding power axes to advanced mechanized infantry armed with weapons now lost but voted as matching the bolters of Space Marines in their ferocity. During this time, the Regiments were left almost exclusively to their own rules, as long as they served faithfully, and conformed to the few restrictions placed on them. In other words, there was no need to enforce what was already willingly accepted.

During the Horus Heresy, an estimated 40-50% of the Army turned on the Imperium. Most of the Traitor Space Marine Legions broke down into feudal and fragmented Cults, worshipping the various gods of Chaos, and causing great havoc amongst the civilian populations of millions of worlds. With the added range of the Regimental cruisers, the traitor regiments spread quickly and left a bloody swathe of depopulated and dead worlds in their wake, many of which were their own homeworlds. A number of traitor regiments took part in the Siege of Terra, though the exact extent of the traitor forces has never been properly calculated, and most regiments became indistinguishable from each other and unrecognizable from the proud defenders of Humanity they had once been.

With Horus’ defeat and the retreat of Chaos to the Eye of Terror, the Imperial Army underwent massive reformations and became heavily standardized. The Navy was separated from the Army, which became the Imperial Guard and Navy respectively. During this time, the Commissariat was formed to be the bulwark against the influences of Chaos and its traitors. The Commissar was given power to ensure a regiments continuing loyalty, and was charged to do anything necessary to prevent the corruption of Chaos, or spread therein. Commissars were attached to every regiment and were used extensively in the immediate wake of the Traitor forces retreat to ensure that the population of planets that had been ravaged by Chaos, were not subverted by Chaos splinter cells, or sleeper Cults. Before the Imperium was re-forged, millions would meet their end at the edge of a Commissar’s chainsword or the barrel of a Bolt pistol. Eventually, this role was given to the Inquisition and the Ordo Hereticus, and Ordo Malleus.

Over the last 10,000 years, the Commissar has remained a facet of the Imperial Guard command structure, and it is rare not to see at least one attached to the Command staff of a Regimental Officer or Lord Commanders’ staff. Several have even attained commands of their own, including the Legendary Commissar Yarrick, who took command of the Steel Legionnaires of Hades Hive during the Second War for Armageddon and became overall commander of Imperial Forces during the Third War for Armageddon. The only known Commissar to have held and retained overall command of a full regiment, however, was Commissar Ibram Gaunt, who became the only known Colonel-Commissar of the orphaned Tanith 1st Regiment, after receiving command of the Tanith 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from Warmaster Slaydo during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, and losing the 2nd and 3rd when Tanith fell to Chaos.

Training Commissars

Commissars are trained from a young age to be strict adherents and upholders of the Imperial Creed and its associated strictures by the Schola Progenium, which serves the purpose of education and military training centers for Commissarial Cadets and Grenadiers for all regiments, and Officers for some. Training in this respect is highly demanding and is designed to weed out the weak as soon as possible so as to concentrate on the most appropriate candidates. Training includes military exercises, weapons proficiency, hand-to-hand combat, religious studies, and is directed at the total dedication of the student, and the ability for them to deliver the Emperor’s Justice without hesitation or remorse.

After attaining suitable age and education at one of the many Schola Progenium institutions, a potential Commissar is assigned to a regiment in the Imperial Guard at the rank of Commissar Cadet (akin to private rank in the Guard), and under the tutelage of either the regiment’s Commanding Officer or another Commissar. These young soldiers form their own units of ten to twenty Cadets, led by a veteran Commissar and armed with the ubiquitous Lasgun like all other private guardsmen. Army commanders consider themselves fortunate when a Cadet unit joins their campaign, for the Cadets fight with a ferocity and courage uncommon even in the Imperial Guard. Some of this may be put down to the fact that they will be summarily executed if they falter or retreat on the field of battle, but most Cadets are so dedicated to the cause of mankind that they will eventually go on to become fully ordained Commissars if they don’t die in combat. Other imperial guardsmen see the Cadet units as a blessing from the Emperor of Mankind himself and as an omen of certain victory. Promotion to full Commissar status happens only when the Cadet unit’s observer Officer or Commissar considers a Cadet ready and this can take any length of time depending on the commanding Commissar in question.

The Schola Progenium

Dating itself back to the very foundation of the Imperium, the Schola Progenium is one of the Imperium’s most subtly influential organizations and the very bedrock of its elite. The exact moment of its foundation is impossible to determine, but even while the Emperor still walked amongst mortals, charitable institutions existed to select and train promising youths for service in the Imperial Army and the other burgeoning structures of government.

In the Imperium of the forty-first millennium, these many institutions have long been subsumed into a single network, maintained by the Ecclesiarchy and offering the very highest standard of Imperial education and almost guaranteed access to positions in organizations as varied as the Ministorum, the Commissariat, the Adeptus Arbites, the Adepta Sororitas or, of course, the Inquisition.

Individual scholae can vary hugely in size from a few dozen progenii and a couple of masters, up to mighty citadels, teeming with countless students and whole companies of drill abbots. Regardless of size, each schola is a functioning monastery, with a Master Abbot or Principal at the head of a team of dedicated monk-teachers who will tend to specialize in one or more areas of education. Exactly which disciplines are taught will depend upon the capabilities of the teachers, which can tend to be rather eccentric, especially in the smaller scholae.

The youngest progenii may be any age, from infancy upwards, and many scholae double as orphanages and nurseries for the children of Imperial servants. Indeed, to be the orphan of imperial servants is widely considered automatic justification for a place in the nearest schola. However, most scholae are also open to the children of wealthy local families in return for appropriate donations – although these are often accompanied by elaborate “orphaning” rituals in which the parent family formally cuts all legal ties with their offspring.

The lives of progenii are hard and disciplined from the moment of their arrival. A strict hierarchy applies within the student body and a system of privileges and punishments prepares the young progenii for their harsh and demanding futures. Nevertheless, most alumni look back nostalgically on their education as the most rewarding and peaceful time of their lives.

Senior students are expected to be self-directing, focusing on studies in areas that will be relevant for their apportioned future careers. So a senior student destined for the Adeptus Arbites may spend up to two years studying the Lex Imperialis, even if no expert teacher is available. At the conclusion of their studies, they are then expected to join whichever organization they are deemed to suit best.

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