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"Free in spirit but a slave by blood."
—Volarian army saying

The Volarian Imperial Host refers to the Imperial Guard regiments mobilized from the harsh Mining World of Volaria in the Tamahl sector of Segmentum Obscurus. The difficult and brutal conditions on their homeworld molded many Volarians into the ideal unflinching and enduring soldiers, and their upbringing as slaves made many of them unquestioningly obedient. They are primarily an infantry force with some elements of cavalry and artillery for support. The lack of will of Volarian slave soldiers and high endurance for physical pain, as well as total disregard for their own lives, has made them infamous among the Guard. Due to the characteristics of their troops, regiments of the Volarian Host are often assigned to some of the most difficult campaigns that are waged in the God-Emperor's name.

Regimental Culture

Volarian Host header

Recruitment and Training

The regular Varitai soldiers are selected from slaves owned by noble houses, typically the larger ancient families whose slaves number in the tens of millions. They donate strong candidates to serve as slave soldiers around the age of 16 or 17, at which point Varitai undergo military training in the isolated dunes of the Volarian deserts. They are put through brutal training during which death is not uncommon, mainly in marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and unit coordination. Afterwards they are admitted into the Host as full soldiers. The Kuritai are selected from either exceptionally gifted Varitai or gladiatorial arenas on Volaria known as the pits. There, slaves fight to survive every day and serve as entertainment. Those that survive to the ages of 11–13 are then picked out to undergo even harsher military training, similarly to the Varitai but more intense. Those that make it through become servants of the Host.

Free Rifles and Cavalry are a bit different. They mainly consist conscripted citizens and some volunteers, given similar training to the Varitai except it is not as brutal or intense. They are often given more specialized instruction in certain fields as well (i.e. tactics, medicine, engineering) since they have free will and are more independent-minded than the enslaved troops. Although their will and easier training (at least by Volarian standards) make them not as deadly or fanatical as the slaves, the Free Rifles nonetheless can be formidable opponents.

Combat Doctrine

The strategem employed by Volarian officers is to overwhelm the enemy with numbers. Since the majority of their troops are slaves and even the ones that aren't are still considered expendable, it is only the logical response. Infantry are the most common type of soldier in the Host and every plan is based on their capabilities. Cavalry is more limited but mainly used in conjunction with infantry, often playing either a supporting role or sometimes used as an independent mobile force. Technology is relatively new to the Volarians so artillery and armor are not fully integrated into the doctrine and officers are free to use them as they please. They typically use artillery and armor as support for infantry and cavalry.

History

Notable Campaigns

Specializations

Infantry

Varitai

Varitai

The average slave soldiers of the Volarian Imperial Host are known as Varitai (roughly meaning "brute fighter" in the Volarian dialect). With minimal training (at least by Volarian standards) and less advanced equipment, the Varitai are considered to be the completely expendable infantry of the Host. Their upbringing has made them highly enduring, with most being able to continue fighting even upon sustaining grievous injuries, and their upbringing has made them disregard their own lives, allowing Varitai to keep fighting with indifference to any overwhelming odds against them. Thanks to their plentiful numbers the Varitai are regarded as expandable by their officers and are sometimes used in suicidal attacks against the enemy. The Varitai are selected from among average slaves, usually around the ages of 16 or 17, and then given harsh military training. They are drawn from the ranks of slaves of the most powerful noble houses that own tens of millions, and see it as an honor to contribute to the God-Emperor's cause by donating some of their "property" for his crusades.

Kuritai

Kuritai3

The smaller elite special forces of the Volarian Host are known as the Kuritai (roughly meaning "elite fighter" in the Volarian dialect). The Kuritai are bred for combat often from birth, trained in everything ranging from marksmanship and unarmed combat to piloting tanks and giving medical assistance (though not for their fellow soldiers, as they ignore casualties in their own ranks, but in case their officers are wounded). Various methods have been used to select Kuritai over the years, most notably raising slaves in gladiatorial arenas known as "the pits", where they are in constant battles for survival. Those that live to their teenage years are then selected for additional training in the various fields to become Kuritai, around the ages of 11 or 12. Since the Kuritai have far more combat value than their much more common Varitai brethren or the Free Rifles, they operate in small squads within the companies of these numerically greater soldiers. Often times they are used as shock troops or to carry out special operations.

Free Rifles

Free Rifles on mission

The free independent citizens who are not enslaved but are not aristocrats also face conscription into the Host's ranks, known as Free Rifles. Unlike their slave counterparts the Free Rifles are actually paid and are only obliged to serve for five years of duty, then given the option to sign contracts to serve longer if they wish. They lack the fanatical obedience and unwavering discipline of the Varitai or Kuritai, but have a free will and are more capable of independent thinking while their slave brethren are not much more than drones. This means they are more likely to break or run when faced in deadly situations but also that they can be more clever when it comes to tactics and planning. They are given similar training to the Varitai, but slightly less brutal. The Free Rifles are not quite as expandable as the Varitai in the eyes of Volarian officers, but are not as valued as the Kuritai. They typically fight alongside the Varitai and form the second waves of attack after their comrades have softened the enemy's defenses.

Mercenaries

Volarian mercs

To increase manpower for particularly taxing campaigns or to provide specific skills, Mercenaries are often hired by the Host. These are a varied lot, on payroll of the Volarian Ruling Council, usually for specific operations and crusades. Mercenaries range from escaped slaves and desert-roaming outlaws that inhabit the sparsely-populated expanses of Volaria, to provide some extra muscle, or off-worlders with particular skills that function in a supportive role for the main troops. Since Volarian mercenaries are typically recruited from the dregs of society, they are viewed to be just as expendable, if not even more so, as the Varitai. Unbeknownst to the foreigners hired into this role, many officers do not distinguish too much between Volarian and off-world mercenaries and thus their casualty rates can be just as high in combat. However the foreigners are more often hired for specific duties so they are far less likely to be sent into battle. Those skills could include engineering, piloting, or medical knowledge.

Cavalry

Free Cavalry

Volarian Free Cavalry

One of the traditions maintained by the Host is the Free Cavalry companies that consist entirely of free citizen conscripts. Like their infantry counterparts, members of the Free Cavalry are drafted from those that are not enslaved, but specifically the more remote desert villages of Volaria where the old tribes continue to live as they had for millennia, ignoring modern Imperial technology. Those recruits are already capable of horseback riding and are trained as cavalrymen in the Host. They are equipped with modern weaponry and gear, being used as support and mobile forces that fight alongside the infantry, perform reconnaissance, or charge enemy positions at times. In training they are typically the same quality as the Free Rifles are and considered the same way by officers as they are.

Artillery

A relatively new addition to the Host's array of forces, artillery pieces are used to provide support during certain operations, particularly ones involving sieges of fortifications. The Volarian Host's arsenal includes the standard Imperial designs, including Basilisk and Medusa guns. The heavier equipment is typically handled by hired mercenary engineers with Volarian assistants for the hard labor (such as loading the guns). Various smaller emplacements (including Earthshakers and Tarantulas) and mortars are also used as light artillery by the Varitai and Free Rifles, who are given minimal training on how to use such equipment. For the most part artillery is used in a supportive role by Volarians, partly due to their traditions, who are not used to using such technology and are still learning to fully integrate it into their operational procedures. A typical Volarian Regiment usually has at least one artillery company.

Armor

Another recent addition to to the Volarian Imperial Host are the armored forces. The Ruling Council typically hires mercenaries to pilot tanks and other vehicles, although some Volarians are trained for the task. Tanks are rarely used by the Host and when they are fielded they are used in a supportive role to the infantry and cavalry, like the artillery. As with the latter the armored corps is not fully integrated into Volarian tactical doctrine, and so officers on the field are able to experiment with tanks and use what tactics they feel are best in their situation. Most often the models used include standard Leman Russ tanks and occasionally some that are more rare, like the Destroyer and the Shadowsword. A typical Volarian Regiment does not have any permanently assigned tank forces, but for certain missions would have an armor company assigned to it.

Officer Corps

The officers of the Imperial Host are drawn from the noble families on Volaria, who are required to send at least some of their sons to serve the Emperor. But all promotions after that are based strictly on merit to keep the untalented from getting command. Those that do get in are sent to the War Academy in Volar where they are given instruction in the art of war, so they are not untrained. They also go through the standard infantry training experienced by the Free Rifles. Service as an officer is also open to others, with commoners sometimes being promoted to those ranks. Officers are paid like the Free Rifles, but much more so. General officers are either promoted through the ranks or are older, more experienced noblemen that are given a general's commission by the Ruling Council. Some officers are drawn directly from the private forces that noble houses keep under their command.

While the Host falls under the command of the Imperial High Command, its administrative apparatus is the Prince-Elector's Military Household, which includes the Volarian general staff and answers directly to the Elector of Volaria. The planetary defense force, the Volarian Electoral Host (units present on Volaria under the leadership of various noble houses) is also part of the Military Household.

Organization

Order of battle

The standard order of battle of a regular Volarian Cohort (Regiment) is as follows:

  • Cohort (HQ: 200)
    • 2 Varitai Companies (500)
      • 10 Varitai Platoons (50)
        • 4 Varitai Squads (10)
        • 1 Kuritai Squad (10)
    • 2 Free Rifle Companies (500)
      • 10 Free Rifle Platoons (50)
        • 4 Free Rifle Squads (10)
        • 1 Kuritai Squad (10)
    • Free Cavalry Company (250)
      • 5 Free Cavalry Squadrons (50)
        • 5 Free Cavalry Patrols (10)
    • Artillery Battery (50)
      • 10 Guns (5)

Additional units that can be attached for mission purposes:

  • Heavy Armor Company (40)
    • 2 Heavy Armor Squadrons (20)
  • Light Armor Company (80)
    • 4 Light Armor Squadrons (20)
  • Artillery Company (200)
    • 4 Artillery Batteries (50)

Ranks

The rank system used by the Host is essentially the same as the standard Imperial Guard one with some minor differences.

Host Rank Imperial Guard Equivalent
General General
Colonel Colonel
Major Major
Captain Captain
Lieutenant Lieutenant
Ensign Warrant Officer
Sergeant-At-Arms Sergeant-Major
Sergeant Sergeant
Senior Rifleman / Cavalryman / Artillerist / Tanker Corporal
Rifleman / Cavalryman / Artillerist / Tanker Guardsman

Members of the Varitai and Kuritai classes could rarely advance past the rank of Senior Rifleman, while Free Rifles were able to work their way to junior officer ranks.

Wargear

Standard, insignia, and symbols

The Volarians use limited amounts of symbols, with the most notable being the regimental standard that each cohort headquarters possesses. It is a black field with a skull and cross bones in the center, known as the "Death's Head" mark. It has historically been the flag of those who give no quarter and expect none, fighting on in dangerous situations without any regard for their own lives. The Ruling Council thought it was the most fitting standard for their slave soldiers.

Notable Members

Notable Regiments

1st Volarian Cohort
14th Volarian Cohort
199th Volarian Cohort
600th Volarian Cohort

Quotes

By

About

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