Up to what rank can a commissar execute, where does their political power end?
Up to what rank can a commissar execute, where does their political power end?
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A commissiar will propably try to carry out his duty no matter who he is attatched to, certain individuals will however resist. The real question is, which individuals are alowed to resist (which basically means killing the commissiar) without being branded traitors?
It's possible that at the higher ranks, it'll be harder to find a reason to execute someone.
The most common reason for Commissars shooting people seems to be cowardice on the field of battle- and Warmasters and the like may never end up needing to personally fight (thus showing bravery or cowardice) at that rank in the first place.
True but i think thats depoending ont he comissiar what they view as cowardice. Some would view caution off the battlefield as cowardsdice to i imagine.
I imagine that Commissars would be unable to summarily execute exceptionally high ranking officers and would rather have to go through a rather more political approach (after all, they're political officers, not just guys who shoot cowards!).
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I'd also say that a Warmaster or important general would in fact be expected to retreat when faced with direct danger: his value to the Imperium is after all more in his command ability than in his availability in direct combat, making losing such an individual to (say) an ork choppa detrimental to the Imperium's interests, which is what the commissar is there to protect. A commissar with half a brain should know when and when not to stand his ground (remember tabletop rules only reflect those guardsmen of regimental level and below, whose main and only purpose is indeed to fight). Look at commissars in Krieg regiments for example, whose main role is to actually keep the troops from throwing their lives away needlessly.
Ciaphas Cain also remarks numerous times that although a commissar is in fact allowed to shoot anybody - up to the highest level - he is held accountable for each execution, and giving a satisfactory explanation for shooting a warmaster will be quite difficult. Shooting one without a good reason probably gets the commissar branded as a traitor and shot or worse...
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In the FW Talos campaign I recall that a Commissar organized the retreat of the Imperial forces in order to save resources after things had gone belly up. It seems their role is to ruthlessly pursue the interests of the Imperium by purging the heirarchy of people who fail to conform to the expectations of their role, which in the case of guardsmen is to be expendable cannon fodder.
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In Necropolis the local commisarsariat tried to executed the commanding general of one of the foreign regiments. But there isn't any hard and fast rules for it. The higher ranked and the better politically connected the Officer is the harder it will be. Or rather, the better reason and the more by the book you are going to have to do it. Of course, that doesn't mean the Commisar in question can't play politics too, and if you are dealing with higher ranked officers you probably had to to get there anyway.
The Commissariat are mainly political officers and though many are firebrands, they aren't mindless idiots. They could execute anyone for cowardice, but if that person is more useful alive, well I'm sure he will find ways around it. They are tasked with upholding the ethos of the Imperium and making sure that, if it be on the squad level or if its a commander of an entire system, people are making decisions that are in the Imperiums best interests.
Killing a charismatic tactical or strategic genius in charge of a sectors forces seems not very likely. At that level I can see the Inquisition getting involved, at which point though they may act insulted and take on a defensive stance, the commissar will happily hand over the case to the guy who clearly outranks him power wise.
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A commissar has the authority to summarily execute a warmaster. They're not in the chain of command; neither outranks the other. If the warmaster turned and fled in the heat of battle - which is very different from retreating in a tactical and orderly fashion - then the commissar's duty is clear.
(For that matter: an inquisitor does not outrank a Space Marine, a warmaster or a commissar. The inquisitor has absolute authority but is not in the same organisation as any of them, and none of them has to be happy when the inquisitor uses that authority. The Inquisition is not at the top of the commissariat chain of command; commissars are perfectly capable of investigating the conduct of Imperial officers without Inquisition involvement, because they'd be useless if they weren't.)
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a comissar may execute who ever he wants. in necropolis, gaunt saves an off world regimental commander from being tried and executed, but gives the lord general in charge the option of taking his own life instead of summary execution. not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. where as in another ghost novel, men are fleeing all around comissar hark during battle and he only rallies them rather than shoot them, but after the battle he executes the officer that ordered the retreat with out giving proper orders and guidance during the retreat to keep it organized.
a comissar could execute a high lord of terra if they saw a high lord running from the enemy in combat.
You are assuming the comissiar cares about dying himself. I kinda get the feeling they're deffinatly willing to die to do their duty (well most of them).
and as for not able to kill this or that officer, the certainly have the ability to simply pull their gun and shoot him the question of surviving to answer for the execution thats in question.
Considering that a Commissar essentially has carte blanche regarding the execution (fnarr) of his duty, I'd say that they can kill people (regardless of rank) whenever they feel that the person in question has strayed from the True Path (see also: Inquisitor).
Outranking does not come into question, since the Commissariat wouldn't do very well if a Major-General (modern or otherwise) could order him to stop.
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Remember, the Guard command is machiavellian in its political culture. While a commissar might have the right to summary execution, this is not always the wisest option. A commissar will have to justify his actions. The most mindlessly zealous commissars don't tend to have a fruitful career.
Which is in the imperiums best intrest (well atleast they think so), its worth executing a few commissiars if it means that your officers regardless of rank will fear being shot for their actions. The funny thing would be an inquisitor leading a guard unit containing a commissiar, would the commissar dare to defy the inquisition if they showed cowardice?
In Battlefleet Gothic it's established that they're free to shoot even the captain of a capital ship.
Commissars seem to focus mainly on the military, meaning the Guard, Navy, and Munitorum, as well as anyone in the government under martial law. Within that constraint, theoretically they could execute a warmaster if they deemed it necessary. Though of course really only a few commissars could do so practically- Cain probably could. Gaunt maybe. Yarrick easily.
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It's referred in the cain novels that a number of Commissars have had there careers cut short due to 'friendly fire'. Near the end of his career where he becomes a tutor for a Commissariat academy he tries to in still his way of thinking to his recruits. In the last novel Cain contemplates the amount of paper work that would have to be processed if he killed the governor of the planet if she went against the IG's plan.