A Death Korps Officer is an officer in one of the Imperial Guard regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg that hail from the devastated, post-apocalyptic Death World of Krieg in the Segmentum Tempestus. Death Korps Officers, right up to the level of regimental command, typically lead and fight from the front of their units. This is not so much a conscious decision as a simple expression of the Death Korps regiments' mentality, as every Krieg Guardsman expects to fight and die for his Emperor. To this end, officers of these regiments commonly equip themselves for service at the front line with grenades, powerful sidearms and either a Chainsword or Power Sword. Members of a Death Korps Command Squad in service to an officer wear their squad insignia (a "C" for command) on their right shoulder. Officer's helmets typically bear an ornate Imperial Aquila.
Unlike many other Imperial Guard regiments that draw their troops from worlds with a long-standing militarised culture (such as the Mordians or Jantines), Krieg itself has no standing aristocracy or hereditary officer class. Instead, its officers are drawn from the body of the Krieg regiments' rank and file. This means that the majority of the Death Korps' officer cadre has been promoted through the ranks through a mixture of ability, seniority and often as a result of their simple survival. Staff officers and flag officers are usually seconded from other Imperial Guard regiments or from the Imperial noble classes that provide much of the Imperial Guard's upper echelons and these positions are often retained as hereditary entitlements. Krieg officers, who are dedicated to the Death Korps' narrow doctrine of attritional warfare, are generally considered incapable of performing the political and diplomatic roles required for the staff officers or commanding officer of an Imperial Guard army command.
As veterans of the Death Korps' way of war, Death Korps Officers have no regard for high casualties, which has led to morale problems where senior Krieg officers have been placed in charge of non-Krieg Imperial Guard regiments across a wider theatre of operations. It is also a noticeable feature of the Death Korps' culture that Krieg regiments do not issue medals or decorations because Krieg soldiers view such rewards as insignificant and meaningless baubles. Bravery is expected and commonplace amongst the regiments of the Death Korps, and so Krieg Guardsmen neither expect nor respect special rewards for what they consider as their duty to the Emperor.
For the most part, Krieg officers wear a standardised Death Korps uniform. The individuality that is displayed by the use of non-standard uniform appearance in other Imperial Guard regiments is not favoured in the Death Korps, whose indoctrination requires them to sublimate individuality to the greater purposes of the Imperial Guard and the Emperor. But the Departmento Munitorum's regulations governing the equipment of Imperial Guard regiments do require that officers distinguish themselves from the rank and file, the better to serve as figures of inspiration and authority on the battlefield. Hence, a regimental commander's uniform is usually of superior material and design, individually tailored for him or her. Their greatcoats are made of the finest grade Mukaali hide. A regimental commander will sometimes wear a breastplate that is issued to Death Riders, often polished to a gleaming shine for ceremonial duties. In practice it provides little in the way of additional protection. The officer's gorget is actually a small Conversion Field generator, worn for personal protection by high ranking officers and officials. These generators are often disguised as jewelry or other decoration. Krieg officers wear the standard Mark IX helmet, which often has further decoration added as befits an officer's rank, such as a golden Aquila crest or the winged skull Imperialis symbol of the Imperial Guard.
Some officers prefer to wear the tall riding boots issued to Death Riders, which are regarded as being of higher quality and comfort than the low marching boots of the infantry. A regimental commander will sometimes retain them after serving with a Death Rider unit. A red sash is often worn for battlefield identification, and is also worn by a Krieg officer's security detachment. A Death Korps Officer's gas mask is a lightweight unit that lacks the large regulator that is standard for the common Krieg infantrymen, since it is only used for short exposures to the toxins of the battlefield. It is generally issued to Krieg staff officers who would otherwise spend the majority of their time inside sealed command bunkers.
The regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg reject the awarding of medals for individual bravery, as this behaviour is simply expected from Death Korps Guardsmen, and all are indoctrinated to face the direst threats without regard for their own survival. It is not in the Death Korps' ethos to recognise individual achievements, and those born into the Korps do not seek such recognition. Their training requires them to become a faceless cog in the vast war-making machine of the Imperium's military forces. Service to the Korps and the Emperor are regarded as reward enough for their sacrifices, and so Death Korps officers do not wear the campaign badges and other distinctions of service common to most Imperial Guard officers.
The weapons of a Death Korps Officer are carried as a matter of ritual and protocol rather than as practical accoutrements. Only in the direst of circumstances would a regiment's senior commanding officer actually be required to fight, although to have reached the esteemed rank of Colonel in the Death Korps such an officer would have already earned a wealth of frontline combat experience. Death Korps officers sometimes carry sabres, another relic of their days leading a Death Rider company. A Laspistol is usually carried as a weapon for personal defence. It is likely to be a standard issue weapon, no doubt kept in spotless condition by a regimental commander's aides, and well maintained, lacking the wear and tear of frontline service. Many officers will choose to carry other weapons as a matter of personal preference though these will be individual to the personality and circumstances of the officer.
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part Two, pp. 44-45
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks, Part Three, pg. 90