The Imperial Guard is exposed to terrible threats which can shake the resolve of even the most steel-hearted veteran, from bizarre aliens to the terrifying inhabitants of the warp. To encourage the men to fight the most horrendous of situations, commissars are attached to regiments of Imperial Guard. The role of a commissar is to fight alongside the regiment’s officers and take 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 the colonel of a regiment must be sure to display courage and zeal at all times when a commissar is watching him.
Commissars are orphans educated within the Ecclesiarchy’s Schola Progenium and selected from among those who show fearless faith in their Emperor. They are then assigned by the Commissariat to Imperial Guard regiments whether the regiment in question likes it or not. Commissars are pious, self-righteous and unswerving in their purpose. They are exceptionally brave and many a seemingly hopeless battle has been turned by a commissar taking command. However, they are universally feared and loathed by the men of the Imperial Guard and are always the first against the wall when a regiment mutinies.