Pro Imperator! Pro Hominum!
Commissar is the term used to designate a political officer who serves in the regiments of the Imperial Guard or aboard the voidships of the Imperial Navy as the representatives of the Imperial Commissariat. Commissars are tasked with the duty to maintain the morale of the troops during their massive campaigns, often in the face of staggering casualties. The Commissar is empowered to use any means necessary to ensure the loyalty and moral purity of his or her charges, including overriding or even executing a regiment’s commanding officer if necessary, and so is regarded with a mixture of fear and admiration by rank-and-file Guardsmen — and not a few of their officers.
Commissar-General – Commissar-General is the senior-most rank within the Commissariat. Besides their usual duties, these highly experienced Commissars are also tasked with the additional responsibilities of assigning Commissars under their command to overwatch Imperial Guard officers and promoting Commissar Cadets to full-Commissar status.
Lord-Commissar – Lord-Commissars are senior-ranking Commissars, promoted to this esteemed rank after displaying exemplary battlefield service. The battlefield heroics of a Lord-Commisar are often the stuff of legends to the average Guardsman.
Colonel-Commissar – Colonel-Commissar is a very rare rank, conferred upon a Commissar only in unusual or extraordinary circumstances. This rank refers only to those Commissars awarded regimental command rank, and charged with commanding an Imperial Guard regiment. The inherent conflict between the performance of the dual roles of Commissar and regimental commanding officer is normally seen as a threat to a regiment’s discipline by the Commisariat.
Commissar-Captain – Commissar-Captain is a rarely-seen rank that is an intermediary position between a full Commissar and a Commissar-General. Though the particular role of a Commissar-Captain is not easily defined, it has been observed that Commissars who maintain this rank have been seen supervising at a regimental level.
Commissar – Commissar is the standard rank of these political officers, at least one being assigned per regiment of the Imperial Guard or voidship of the Imperial Navy. It is their duty to “encourage” the men of an Imperial Guard regiment to fight, fighting alongside the regiment’s officers and taking control when morale is flagging or the men are not fighting with sufficient zeal. In such situations a Commissar can take over command from an officer and summarily execute any man who tries to flee. Even a Colonel of a regiment must be sure to display courage and zeal at all times when a Commissar is watching them.
Junior Commissar – Junior Commissars are subordinate to full Commissars, performing the role as a junior aide in the oversight of the regiment or voidship assigned to a full Commissar. They primarily perform as adjutants and in an investigatory role as well as carrying out the usual Commissarial duties. Junior Commissars often undertake their Commissarial role with smaller formations such as an individual squad, platoon or company.
Cadet Commissars – Cadet-Commissars are Commissars-in-training. Assigned to Commissar Training Squads they are armed and equipped with the standard gear of a regular Guardsman, although they maintain their usual Commissar panoply; leather long coat, gloves, jack boots, and high-peaked caps. Their uniforms only differ slightly from a full Commissar by featuring blue trim and a Cadet-Commissar emblem instead of the usual death’s head emblem of a full Commissar. Their training has no set duration, and a Cadet-Commissar will only be graduated to full Commissar status upon being deemed worthy by the Commissariat.