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I'd say yea, even your junior officer could be your commander. Typically a senior officer would be a captain ranked and above, and junior officer a lt. or something of the sorts. i always thought a commissar would be like a warrant officer. Except arresting people or doing w/e they do, they just kill the coward who is leading their squad. In the old guard book, they said they just classed them as senior officers and junior officers, as many worlds have such varied names for ranks, so that was easier.
Senior officers are the company commanders and regimental commanders, each regiment is broken down this way
Regimental Commander (Colonel)
Regimental 2nd in Command (Major)
Company Commanders (Captains, captains and above would be senior officers)
Platoon Commanders (The name for this rank often varies, these are the junior officers)
Squad Commander (Sergeant)
The Colonel and the Major each command their own company of guardsmen, also there is normally only 1 at a time although when regimens merge there is often more than 1 Major so that all of the people are well represented in the regiment's command structure.
Commissars are different to officers. The officers hold rank over men and have people directly under their command. Commissars however can't issue orders to the men around them, (but if he asks you for something it would still be a good idea to get it) instead they are there to ensure that the men keep their morale up and stay in the fight. They have the option to shoot just about any officer that shows cowardice in the face of the enemy.
Commissar rankings are as follows,
Commissar General, (This guy has other cadet commissars assigned to him to train and learn what it is to be a true commissar of the Imperium. He is responsible for training them and promoting them to Junior Commissar status. It is also his job to assign other commissard under his command to different regiments in the area).
Colonel-Commissar, (This guy has all of the normal commissar duties aswell as those of a Colonel. This means that it is his job to both command and bond with the officers as well as being trusted to kill them should they show cowardice. As you could imagine this rank is extremely rare, almost non-existant).
Commissar, (This guy is assgined to a regiment for either a battle or campaign, he may serve for weeks or years. He is responsible for discipline and morale, trusted to shoot cowards on the spot. Some drive their men towards the enemy with fiery speaches, some do it with the crack of a whip).
Junior-Commissar, (This guy has been recently promoted to a Junior Commissar by a commissar general and assigned to another commissar in a different regiment. He holds the full power and authority of a commissar although is often taken lightly. This is because his main job is to assist the commissar he has been assigned to and just about everything he does must be OK'd by the full commissar he is assigned to. The commissar he is assigned to will promote him into a full commissar when he feels the Junior is experienced and has learned enough about how t do his duties).
Cadet-Commissar, (These are recent graduites of the Schola Progenium, the are armed with lasguns rather than the bolt pistols and close combat weapons other commissars normally bear. They are attached to a General Commissar in the area who will decide when they will be promoted into Junior Commissars. The young cadets are often formed into commissar training squads, these are squads of about 10 cadets lead by either the general commissar or a normal commissar he assigns this duty to before the battle.
Hope that answers some of your questions
IG Best Gen 1st overall of 10 DE 4th overall of 6
Eldar 3rd Overall/Best General of 26--2nd Overall/Best General of 7--1st Overall/Best General of 11
Commissars are civilians and so aren't plugged into the chain of command at all. While they have broad powers of summary execution (and other, less interesting responsibilities such as integrating combined regiments and overseeing public relations), they tend not to participate in combat (or even planning strategy) unless the situation requires them. There are exceptions, of course, but the Commissar is a political officer and not a soldier.
As for military ranks, each regiment is free to do as it wishes--Kevin gave the usual ones, but all the Munitorum really needs is a name to write on the "General Form for the Assignation of Blame for Failure".
"My tanks have names, my men have numbers." -Col. Edmund Grahvess, 23rd Kronecker Prison Guard
Historical commissars (as in Soviet) were purely political and avoided combat, but 40k commissars are definitely warriors in the service of the Imperium, even though they are not technically soldiers.
The structure of a Guard regiment also means that you can vary which part of the regiment your own army is representing; whether it's the 1st company commanded by the Lt. Colonel himself as part of regimental command, or the 3rd under Captain Smith, etc. Painting rank insignia on your chaps to represent this really looks ace, with the option of using British pips and crowns or bars and squarky birds for the Yanks.
Of course, there's nothing to stop you using the ranks system of other armies as inspiration, (although I'd stop sort of titles such as Sturmoberst, etc.)...
Emulating the regimental organization of the army of 1914 as best I can, I use this organizational method when determining who commands what when I paint/organize my army:
Company Command Squad (Senior Officer)
Lt. Colonel (Regimental Command, Company Command)
Major (Regimental 2-IC, Company Command)
Captain (Company Command)
Platoon Command Squad (Junior Officer)
Lieutenant (Platoon commander)
2nd Lieutenant (Platoon commander)
Squad Level Command (Sergeant)
Sergeant (Squad commander)
Corporal (Squad commander)
My army is commanded by the Regimental Lt. Colonel (one pip, one crown insignia), thus representing the core command of the regiment itself.
Last edited by Morden279; June 29th, 2009 at 08:36.
Also in response to Intrepid, I think this is an excellent definition of a Soviet kommissar, but in 40k a commissar is deemed to hold equal rank to the highest ranking officer he is assigned to. Commissars form part of the command staff and the senior commissar will always be present at tactical meetings, as far as this is possible. Also, commissars assigned to the Guard will very definitely take to the battlefield - see every book that features the Guard ever written fr further details. They may not neccessarily all lead from the front, but they will be there nontheless. Final point, they aren't civilians, per se. As members of the Munitorum they fall under the logistical arm of the military, but they are military, though it's true that they operate outside of the Guard command structure. However, they aren't civillians in the same way that the Inquisition aren't civillians.
Yes, commissars are most definitely not civilians in 40k. This is an accurate description of the Red Army of the U.S.S.R. perhaps but not of the Imperium. Commissars have military jurisdiction not only to execute and enforce law and order but also to issue orders. They are not officers, but they do have authority to command troops. Though Commissars are extensively trained and know when to circumvent command as necessary or two support their capable officers to which they are assigned. This is part and parcel of keeping the Imperial Guard functioning. I would think of commissars as more than officers because they are just as well trained in the arts of war, but also they are trained much more extensively in psychology and politics and know when to use discretion rather than execute their authority to its maximum allowance.
Isn't that the definition of a civilian?They aren't civilians, per se...though it's true that they operate outside of the Guard command structure.
Being outside the command structure doesn't mean a Commissar cannot give orders. His authority simply comes from the Commissariat rather than the chain of command, a situation which gives him the freedom to do his primary job--ensuring that the regiment's officers remain loyal to the Imperium. In that sense, he's exactly like an old USSR Commissar.
My main point was that Commissars shouldn't be considered officers of a regiment. They can and do provide leadership but, as Darguth pointed out, their training leans towards psychology and politics rather than, say, writing a battle plan for an armored spearhead assault with artillery support or directing a search-and-destroy mission in a hab block. Both Commissars and officers provide leadership but the Commissar is primarily a political animal and not a military one.In Grey Knights, a Commissar took leadership of a regiment only after the entire command staff had been killed. He didn't show any tactical ingenuity, either; he just rallied the men and keep them fighting whatever enemies he could find. Also, in the Ciaphas Cain books Cain (and most of the other Commissars mentioned) never went to the front lines except when circumstances forced the issue; the only real reason Cain "lead from the front" was to claim the best accomodations wherever the regiment went. And, of course, any by-the-book Commissar who takes to the battlefield will be surrounded by armed men who hate and fear him...not a smart thing to do just because he can.commissars assigned to the Guard will very definitely take to the battlefield - see every book that features the Guard ever written for further details.
"My tanks have names, my men have numbers." -Col. Edmund Grahvess, 23rd Kronecker Prison Guard
See Storm of Iron, any and all Guard codices, the 3rd ed rulebook and the First and Only novels for a better idea of the "average" commissar. They are a tool of leadership - just like an officer. An officer encourages his men and is tactically adept. A commissar threatens the men and reminds them that there are far worse things than dying in battle. And 99% of regiments would never dare even raise their voice to a commissar - if it reached comand HQ the odds are the whole platoon, if not company, would face the firing squads. The obvious exception being the Catachans and their fantastic "Oops, sorry sir!" special rule.In Grey Knights, a Commissar took leadership of a regiment only after the entire command staff had been killed. He didn't show any tactical ingenuity, either; he just rallied the men and keep them fighting whatever enemies he could find. Also, in the Ciaphas Cain books Cain (and most of the other Commissars mentioned) never went to the front lines except when circumstances forced the issue; the only real reason Cain "lead from the front" was to claim the best accomodations wherever the regiment went. And, of course, any by-the-book Commissar who takes to the battlefield will be surrounded by armed men who hate and fear him...not a smart thing to do just because he can.
Don't look too hard at these things in 40k. They do exactly what they say on the tin - a commissar is an insane warrior, wielding the dual blade of leading by example and dire consequences against his own men. He's not a subtle implement, he's an insane black-clad lunatic.