Imperial Service (Barrayar)

Imperial Military Service
Imperial Military Service
Service Militaire Impériale
Af̱tokratorikí̱s Stratio̱tikí̱ Ypi̱resía
Imperatorskaya Voyennaya Sluzhba
Lesser coat of arms of the Imperial Service
Founded2832 as Imperial Armed Forces
Current form2901 as Imperial Military Service
HeadquartersImperial Service Headquarters
Vorbarr Sultana
Emperor and Commander-in-ChiefSerg Vorbarra
Minister of WarAdmiral Albert Alexander Vorhalas
Chief of General StaffGeneral Nikolai Vordarian
Military age20 - 40
Conscription2 years
Active personnel20,487,500
Reserve personnel26,075,000
Percent of GDP7.2%
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Barrayar

Imperial Military Service
Active2832 - 2901
2901 - Present
EngagementsFirst Cetagandan War (2836 - 2856)
Second Cetagandan War (2876)
Komarran Conquest (2896 - 2897)
Escobaran War (2899)
Third Cetagandan War (2903 - 2904)
Hagen Hub War (2921)
Polian War (2962)
Black Mountains Campaign (2969 - 2971)
Aslund Crisis (2991)

The Barrayaran Imperial Military Service, also known as the Imperial Service or colloquially as The Service is the national military force of the planet of Barrayar. The Imperial Service is the unified military of Barrayar, since the large reforms carried out by Lord Regent Aral Vorkosigan. The Barrayaran military doctrine states that the Imperial Service consists of one single service, which in turn consists of five main branches and several non-frontline departments: Space Forces (SPAFORCOM), the Ground Force (GROFORCOM), the Orbital Forces Command (ORBIFORCOM), and the Landing Forces (LANFORCOM), which are together overseen by the High Command, headed by the Chief of the General Staff. At the pinnacle of the command structure is the Commander-in-Chief, who is the reigning Barrayaran Emperor.
The service originates from the feudal armies of Time of Isolation of Barrayar, until their dissolution and their inclusion within Imperial ranks and files by the reforming Emperor Dorca Vorbarra. All officers swear allegiance directly to the Emperor of Barrayar. Originally, the Service's officer corps was dominated by the Vor aristocracy. However, the Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, and Lord Regent Admiral Vorkosigan, reformed the admissions process, allowing competitive admission from all classes. The Imperial Military Service in its modern form (the "New Service") dates from the early years of Vorkosigan's regency, partly reformed by the reigning Emperor, Gregor's son, Serg Vorbarra. While there are female auxiliary forces, the Barrayaran Imperial Service Women's Auxiliary, the regular Barrayaran Imperial Service is exclusively male.
Honourably retired personnel get the title of "Imperial Knight", becoming Imperial Liegemen. If regularly retired, most of them are twenty-year men, retired with a military pension, and preference from employers. Preference granted to retired personnel is due to the high consideration for the military: on Barrayar, everyone respects a soldier, even an enemy.
Conversely, a fit man is liable to attract curiosity and disdain if he is not in the Service. It is understood that the economy needs scientists, farmers, professionals, clerks, and other tradesmen, but real men on Barrayar are soldiers: they are called upon to make personal sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in the service of the Emperor, of the Empire and of the Imperium. In putting the needs of the Emperor and of the Empire and of the Imperial Service before their own, they can forego tranquillity and personal safety. In return, Barrayaran soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they and their families will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service. This mutual obligation forms the intimate bond between the Imperium, the Imperial Service and each individual soldier; a common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility.
Every District keeps an eye on their own retired and honourably discharged soldiers: they are often employed as post servicemen, police force, emergency services operators, specialized public workers, office clerks, court personnel. Often, at least a quota within public non-military District agencies is kept for ex-servicemen. Privately, they can easily find an occupation: vehicle maintenance, household equipment repair, plumbers, HVAC, restaurant equipment repair and other occupations and jobs, since they have learned these careers while on duty.
On Komarr, troop levels are quite down from the early years, consisting mainly of ImpSec operatives, agencies and detachments. However keeping secure and safe Komarran space system is still a central strategic goal for the Imperium, and around the planet are garrisoned about two thirds quarters of Imperial Service, plus the several military jumpstations located in the system; the mandatory military duty was extended to Komarrans in 2989 and to Sergyarans in 2999.
Sergyaran planetary defence is an odd issue: while it is for the most part as dull as dishwater (big planet, tiny population, nothing to do), but sometimes is nerve-wrecking, on the occasion when Escobaran-Barrayaran diplomatic relations go south. The force deployed there is part of the Imperial Service and is is proportional to the interest of Barrayar.
The Imperial Service has some core values which are kept and enforced: Honour, Courage and Loyalty have gained increasing prominence since the decline of the "Progressive Empire" in 2960s. As an emphasis on performing morally on and off duty, the concept of core values has been infiltrated into many aspects of military life, beginning in recruit training and continuing into combat. These "warrior ethos" provide guidance to soldiers in difficult ethics situations and as a reminder to provide good order and discipline: the introduction of these ethics was originally envisaged by Lord Regent Aral Vorkosigan and revived by then-Crown Prince Serg Vorbarra.
The Barrayaran military traditionally functions as a "state within the state" with a very large margin of institutional autonomy in return for serving the Government. No soldier of the Imperial Service is allowed to be a member of a political party nor to vote in an election. The Imperial Service also takes part in building projects for civilian use. The involvement of the soldiers in building works keeps them well accustomed to hard physical labour.
The practice of having active duty generals or admirals run the Ministry of War in turn further obstacles the civilian control of the military, and also allows a commitment into military and strategic policies of the higher levels of the Imperial Service; through their representative in the Council of Ministers, the military become involved in issues that had nothing to do with military matters (through that the fact that Cabinet virtually stopped meeting after 1934 did weaken this venue of excising power). Reflecting this position as a "state within the state", the General Staff has an Office of the Ministerial Affairs to lobby politicians and Counts who are, for their part, almost always former high ranking officers, and therefore are inclined to sympathize for military demands.
Barrayar is a regional benchmark of conception of military professionalism. Imperial Service officers routinely expect to give professional advice not only in military matters, but also in related fields. Political authorities' orders are expected to be interpreted and filled whereas it is deemed opportune to do so, while Emperor's orders are held as sacred in spirit. However, The Imperial Service is jealous of its autonomy in mundane and non general affairs.



The Imperial Service tracks back its origins into the Imperial Armed Forces, organised since the reign of Dorca the Just Vorbarra, which in 2832 replaced the various Count and Imperial militias, pressed and forced together by Dorca's unification wars. The main ancestor of the present-day Imperial Service was the so-called Imperial Militia, the standing army around which Emperor Dorca built the first incarnation of the Imperial Armed Forces.
At the beginning of the first great unification war, the Dorcas' host was little more than a coalition between his own militias and the Vorrutyer, the Vorkosigan and the Vorpatril forces. At the onset of the campaign, even the Dorcas' own forces were highly fragmented and came from the feudal lieges. Leadership at company and regimental level was a duty assigned to officers recruited from the same region as the regiment they led. This practice was aimed to ensure that local Vors were placed in charge of those disposed to offer them deference and obedience; officers stayed with the troopers they had spent months or years training, and disruption to regimental morale was minimised.
At the end of the first great unification war, the Dorca's Army met the strategic situation of the empire embryo which served, expressing the domestic and foreign policy and the economic potential and human resources. It was the far better organised and most formidable Army of the continent. Framed by 28 senior officers belonging to the Vor class, the theoretical organic fluctuated around 100,000 units, but in fact it was very minor. The troops were divided into numerous specialities:

  • Home Infantry: 20,000 men in time of peace and 40,000 in wartime;
  • Light Legion, to combat smuggling, 2,100 soldiers;
  • Foreign Infantry, who had a force equal to fifty per cent of the national and enlisted soldiers from all over the Northern Continent, but especially from nearest Districts, as well as from the Vorrutyer, Vorkosigan and Vorpatril Districts;
  • Provincial Infantry: minimised in time of peace, but in a position to provide frameworks for emergency situations;
  • Territorial Militia, taken by the people of the great plains and hills, for the self-defence

The cavalry consisted of 2,500-5,000 men who rode bay horses and were armed with carbines as well as sabre. Also Artillery (light artillery, field artillery and fortress artillery) was of good level. The Artillery also possessed of guns renowned throughout Barrayar.
The other pre-unification armies provided some officers, but the bulk of the troops who gathered in the new military organisation was made ​​up of volunteers from all regions, and only in small part by the regular soldiers of the dissolved Armies. The new Emperor's military complex made it clear that the majority of Counts' officers would not be accepted into the new all-Barrayaran army. This was particularly true for senior officers, who were deemed too close to their former masters. From an ideological standpoint, there was no place in the new all-Barrayaran army for men who had served an “treacherous” Count in high-ranking positions.

Rediscovery era

The rediscovery of Barrayar made it clear that a reorganisation of the Imperial military was due with urgency and the military reform was the first task Emperor Dorcas assumed.

The First Cetagandan War and its consequences

On the left, a First Cetagandan War-era sketch of a partisan of the Great Plains Army, mostly active in large towns and cities. On the right, a contemporary picture of a security guard of the Cetagandan-backed Barrayaran Provisional Government. Barrayaran "Provos", as they were known, were employed for non-frontline duties.

The Cetagandan invasion, and the ensuing guerrilla resistance and heavy losses, forced the opening of officer ranks to plebeians, definitively albeit progressively breaking the traditional Vor monopoly of commanding tasks.
Immediately after the First Cetagandan War, a part of Barrayaran troops of the Barrayaran Provisional Government, the Cetagandan-backed puppet state, were maintained in arms due to the manpower shortage and to the fact that they were relatively highly trained, at least in comparison to the largely guerrilla force led by Emperor Yuri and General Vorkosigan. Vor officers and commanders who did not flee with Cetagandans were systematically purged and in some circumstances executed. These units were maintained up to the regimental level and dispersed through the ranks of the Imperial Army.
Under Yuri Vorbarra's rule, between 2857 and 2860, was created the Imperial Navy, the spaceborne branch of Imperial Armed Forces, while the Imperial Maritime Force was suppressed, due to the substantial irrelevance of seaborne fights. Under the reign of Ezar the Imperial Navy was gradually reinforced, although it remained an almost exclusively defensive force until the firs 2880s, when it was decided to obtain the control of the Komarran system, at least in a long term. The separate services lasted until Ezar Vorbarra's death and the Vordarian Pretendership Civil War in 2900-2901, although with some unitary reforms, such as the renaming of the Imperial Armed Forces as Imperial Service.

The New Service

After the Lord Regent Aral Vorkosigan consolidated his rule and his power, proceeded to a major reform, also in the disciplinary fields. He unified the armed services, deleting the Army, the Navy and other armed corps and creating a joint Imperial Military Service, with an unitary leadership, in order to counterbalance the increase in power of Council of Counts an strengthen the Imperial authority. This so-called "New Service" went through a period of reforms during the very last years of Gregor the Progressive's reign and the first year of Serg Vorbarra's reign, with the aim to eliminate some organisational difficulties which emerged between the Vorkosigan Reforms and the end of 30th Century.
The 2903 Military Plan Document outlined a major restructuring of the separate armed services, describing an integration of operations, logistics support, personnel, and administration of the separate branches under an unique command system. The proposal met with strong opposition from personnel in all three services, but opponents were forced to accept the restructuring because of the immense military and political prestige of the proponent, Lord Regent Admiral Aral Vorkosigan. The protests of service personnel and their superiors had no effect, however, and on Midwinter's Eve 2903, The Imperial Military Service Establishment Act, was granted Regent's Assent, and the Navy, the Army, and the Orbital Force were combined into one service: the Imperial Military Service.
Unification achieved cost and command posts savings, providing an improved command and control activity. Rather than loyalty to each service, Aral Vorkosigan wanted loyalty to the new, all-encompassing Imperial Military Service, in order to weaken a deemed-excessive esprit de corps.
As part of unification, the former services were merged and lost their status as separate legal entities: most of the commands of the former services were eliminated and new unified commands were created. Army personnel and equipment were placed under an entity known as Ground Forces Command, Navy personnel and ships were placed under Space Forces Command, personnel and aircraft of the former Orbital Forces were divided between Ground Forces Command, Space Forces Command, Orbital Defence Command, Transport Command, and Training Command.
Most of the pre-unification corps were disbanded or were merged with counterparts to form the personnel branches of the Imperial Service.

A planet-related Service

The vast majority of the Barrayaran military serves in a planet-related capacity: Nexus starship crews are relatively small and also space stations take a reduced amount of troops. While on planets, the whole military (not only ground forces, which however have a considerable size) carries out a variety of duties: from Cetagandan deterrent, to Escobaran deterrent on Sergyar, to an anti-revolt role, both on Barrayar and on Komarr.
Ground based forces, when on ground, perform training duties: the Imperial Service has, since the end of Cetagandan Wars, wanted to be ready to fight a total-scale war at a moments notice: so the Service has to be large and prepared enough to handle two great wars and a minor conflict anywhere in the Nexus at the same time. So, a lot of military personnel at any moment is doing war exercises: the average soldier is prepared enough to fight at any moment, the average Barrayaran soldier is more prepared than the average soldier.
In the Nexus every planet is an island: therefore every planet needs harbour fortresses, and the whole Barrayaran military strategic doctrine is based on the fact that they know exactly where their problems are coming from and they know exactly that they must hold them off at the pass.
Due to the relatively small crews, only an elite minority of the graduates goes to space service and much of space support is carried out by planet grounds. However, although the vast majority is not abroad the spaceships, the spaceships are the real play-maker, and resources that are not swallowed up by the fleet or the ground units tend to be spread very thinly elsewhere in the Service.

Military Discipline

The Regulations of Military Discipline is the moral code of the Imperial Service. It must be recognized, considered and observed by all the military. The moral principles and specifications dictated by the Regulations form the basis and strength of the military institution.
The Imperial Service, which is supreme commander of the Emperor, are set up to support the Throne, to protect the laws and institutions, make war wherever it is ordained by the sovereign, to defend the honour and independence of the country in obedience to orders received to the extreme fate.
The Imperial Service, to avoid any rift in their team and to perform the duties arising from institutional duties, must remain outside the political controversy.

Military traditions and overall doctrine

Barrayaran military traditions are the specific set of practices associated with the military on Barrayar: this concept describes the styles of military uniform, drill, or the music of a military unit. The military tradition also refers to a ancestors-long line: Vors, as military caste, as a whole have a military tradition, which is represented in the much higher representation of Vors in the military.
The average (and pursued) Barrayaran soldier is proud, little given to humour or empathy, nor to mysticism or even the ritual of the military. His aggression is to be clear in their every action, but so the strength of the control that held it in check.
As per the general approach to war, the Imperial Services uses their relatively limited numbers in order to maximize the effect: the conduct of war makes Barrayaran soldiers brutal, ruthless and unwavering but also honourable and loyal beyond question, fully capable to make war with abrasive aggression by sudden and overwhelming shock assaults. The objective behind the strategy and the tactics of the Imperial Service is to ensure that an enemy targeted for conquest or destruction would fall in a single engagement (or in as few engagements as possible): when attacking a system, Barrayaran warships would cut in from the system's edge, forming a spear formation that would break into many smaller blade tips to strike at the target system's planets, moons and space stations. On more general level, tactical threats are to be systematically identified, isolated, outflanked, encircled and destroyed with merciless precision and close-quarter savagery. The Imperial Service makes its central point the ability to maintain the required flexibility needed to allow them to fight any war or enemy they might encounter on their own terms, but where possible the application of sudden and overwhelming force is usually the favoured form of attack.

A socially rooted force

The Imperial Military Service is, as the Imperial Armed Forces before it were, among the main pollars of the Barrayaran society, which venerates the common soldier, and of the Barrayaran State; a famous and proudly militaristic Barrayaran proverb says “Every Barrayaran is born a soldier”: the Emperor himself is the Supreme Commander and sits down on the Camp Stool, not on a throne.
The Imperial Service is an unifier of a plural society: English-speaking and Russophone, Vor and commoner, every adult man serves in the Barrayaran Imperial Service, and to all it is a symbol of Barrayaran identity. The average Barrayaran does his own military service for the future of our country, deeply believing in it. Being both a guarantor and a product of the unity of the State, positions within the Imperial Service enjoy an high degree of aknowlodgement also in the external society: a Career Officer will never be denied a management position in civilan life.
Since its inception and the opening of officers ranks to non-Vor people, the Imperial Service has been viewed as a duty and an honour, and high ranking officers often shown the same Vors' attitudes about taking pride in passing down their membership to their sons and descendants. That of "Generationals" is a term given to members of non-Vor families (as Vors are ordinarily expected to serve) that had long traditions of military service or in police forces of the Barrayaran Empire. They are a sort of "military hereditary oligarchy" and several (provocative as well as genuine) proposals to make them Vor have been made.
Over the decades, a philosophical divide emerged between the Vors and these so-callled "Generationals" and new up-and-coming officers. These "Generationals" generally uphold the the military as a tool for establishing Emperor's rule, stability and order, and so peace; "freshmen" officers tend to have more pronounced nationalist views, even and perhaps especially if they are of Komarran or Sergyaran origins. As it is inevitable, over the years also "freshmen" tend to become "generationals", insofar they manage to encourage descendants to join the military career, and the latter ones in turn manage to get senior ranks.

Educative role of the Imperial Service

In Barrayar, the Imperial Service also has the political function of framing and educating conscripts according to the basic principles of hierarchy and respect for the established order. This happens through the realization of a system partially separated from society, with a faithful and compact class of officers, directly dependent on the Monarchy and jealous of its autonomy. In fact, the Imperial Service, contrary to the majority of the other Ministries, is always administered by high ranking officers also at the Ministerial level, and do not like external interference.

Political influence of the Imperial Service

The Imperial Service, with its powerful territorial commands has considerable social influence through the operation of its three major territorial commands, which operate all the way down to the village level. This allows them to get involved in community-building initiatives, which has the added effects of improving and keeping high their public image, as well as expanding its influence deeper into the realms of domestic affairs and security. For instance, the Imperial Service is, and has been since quite long time, cooperating with local authorities to launch community projects that empower locals, but also has the added objective of collecting information and bolstering nationalism.


The Barrayaran uniform consists of four different sets. Ranging from informal to formal:

  • Black fatigues, shirt and pants and combat boots, for grubby duties and combat dress
  • Undress greens
  • Dress greens
  • Full Dress Red and Blues

Individual weapons of the Imperial Service

The Imperial Service employs various individual weapons to provide light firepower at short ranges. The most common weapons used by the Imperial Service are the M-5 Plasma Rifle, the M-6 Nerve Disruptor Rifle as well as the M-4 Plasma Carbine. The primary side arm is the M-13 Stunner pistol. Some units or services also use the M-04 Bullet Pistol.
Many units are supplemented with a variety of specialized weapons, including the APM-49 Automatic Impulse Machine, to provide suppressive fire at the squad level. Indirect fire is provided by the Rapier-model plasma grenade launcher. The M-1986 Bullet Shotgun, the M-590 Plasma Pistol and the M-492 Nerve Disruptor Gun are used for door breaching and close-quarters combat. The M-96-Bullet Rifle is used by long-range marksmen, and the M-107 Long Range Maser Rifle is used by snipers.

Laser weapons

Laser weapons are directed energy weapons that produce beams of high-intensity amplified light to produce heat damage on a target. Laser weapons are relatively easy to produce and maintain. While the accuracy of the laser beam can not be distorted by wind like solid ammunition, it can however be more quickly diffused by heavy particles in the air such as heavy smoke and hence lose its power over long distances. Laser weapons, due to the old development of the sword-swallower technology, are used at small-arms level and, nowadays, they are used against unprotected infantry and for specialized purposes such as in training war-game exercises, range-finding, mapping, and similar assistive uses.

Laser pistol

The Laser pistol is the pistol version of the laser weapons concept and as such it fires a coherent beam of energetic photons that can burn through most materials. The laser pistol is powered by a small power pack that is usually placed within the grip. The Laser pistol is specifically intended to allow the user to fire one-handed and wield another object the other hand. Laser pistols are used most often in conjunction with a close combat weapon, as well as in conjunction with other weapons type: the classical combination for tactical equipment is a belt with a laser pistol, a plasma handgun, a nerve disruptor and a stunner. The sheer energy produced is about the same as compared to the laser rifle, yet it has drastically reduced range, and it lacks the rifle's selective fire options, having only the ability to fire single shots.

Laser rifle

The Laser rifle is a directed-energy antipersonnel weapon used by the armed forces of Barrayar, and it is the most common and widely used type of laser weapon in the galaxy. It is standard-issue for the Imperial Service, a solid and rugged weapon that remains reliable and precise in almost any environment, and requires very little maintenance: a quick cleanup after usage is all that is needed to keep it going for over 10,000 shots, after which the focusing crystals must be replaced, an action that requires the intervention of a technician. Laser rifles are reliable, easy to maintain and to produce, and are readily available. A laser rifle has a longer range than a laser handgun, but is nowhere near as powerful as a laser cannon. The laser rifle uses a small portable capacitor power pack to produce a focused pinpoint laser beam which is strong enough to take an ordinary human arm off with one shot but is not as effective against the strongest types of personal armour. A laser rifle's beam also cauterizes the wounds it inflicts due to the immense heat given off by the shot.
The laser rifle uses the same basic technology and operates along the same lines as other laser weapons; the high amount of energy carried by the photons of the beam causes the immediate surface area of a target to be vaporized in a small explosion. It is capable of cleanly severing limbs. The laser rifle is powered by a small rechargeable power pack located beneath the weapon and in front of the trigger guard which can be recharged in a number of ways. These power packs can also be "overcharged", a trick used by Imperial Service veterans, which causes the pack to explode, turning the weapon into a makeshift grenade. Laser rifles have numerous power settings for adjusting the power of each shot and to conserve power, resulting in a weaker laser shot fired. The weapon can be overpowered with a "Hotshot" laser capacitor pack, providing more powerful but fewer shots. The laser rifle mounts a bayonet lug, allowing the weapon to be fitted with bayonets or combat knives.

Plasma weapons

Plasma weapons are highly potent and destructive directed energy weapons utilised in many forms by the advanced powers of the Nexus. Plasma weapons work by delivering pulses of searing energy and superheated matter that have been transmuted into a plasma state that carries an electrical charge. The plasma bolts fired by these weapons explode on impact and generate destructive heat, and the sheer amount of energy released by the impact of superheated plasma is often enough to destroy the target. Plasma weapons vary in form and size; ranging from handguns to huge starship batteries.
Due to the enormous temperatures and deadly energies that plasma weapons generate when fired, such weapons are prone to overheating and misfire. The most common plasma weapons used by the Imperial Service are the M-5 Plasma Rifle, as well as the M-4 Plasma Carbine.

Plasma handgun

The plasma handgun is the smallest variant in the plasma weapons family. Each shot from a plasma handgun contains a great part of the destructive fury of a larger plasma arc, with a reduced range and rate of fire. Specialized assault troops are sometimes armed with plasma handguns. The current pattern of Plasma Pistol in use by the Imperial Service is the HG-5 Handgun but only a few units carry it, while other assault units carry the HG-4.4.1 Handgun. A single shot of a Plasma handgun has a range between 1.56×1003 and 3.744×1003 Joules.

Plasma arc

A plasma arc, also sometimes called a plasma rifle, is a largish hand-held weapon that not only kill sentient beings, but also destroy property. Plasma rifles/arcs are powerful weapons in their own right. Rifle-sized and intended to be wielded by a single trooper, plasma rifles fire compact "pulses" of plasma energy and have a relatively quick rate of fire. Plasma rifles are often deployed in situations where brutal power is required against highly resilient targets as they can easily punch through armour; usually this generates an adequate intimidating power. Due to their sturdy construction, even in the event of an overheat, the weapon is likely to survive. Plasma rifles most commonly have two modes of fire - a standard mode, and a maximal mode which uses more fuel in a single shot for additional stopping power; although the user must wait a short time whilst the weapon recharges and replenishes its internal fuel reserves.
The plasma rifle is classified as a special weapon and is carried by a variety of Imperial infantry. The standard plasma rifle is the M-5 Plasma Rifle, but several units carry the M-4 Plasma Carbine or even the M-5.6 Plasma Assault Rifle. Battle armours are usually equipped with the latter variant. A single shot of a Plasma arc has a range between 4.8×1003 and 1.0187×1004 Joules.

Projectile weapons

Projectile weapons are mass drivers using gravity rather than electromagnetism to drive material projectiles. A typical military-issue projectile pistol has a caliber of 3mm and a muzzle velocity of 2,000 m/s. The projectiles are often fitted with explosive warheads, with even a shot to the hand being powerful enough to destroy the entire arm. Projectile rifles fire calibers of up to 4.7mm. The standard muzzle velocity for a 4.7mm projectile rifle is comparable to that of a 3mm pulser pistol, about 1,800 m/s. Vehicle-based projectile weapons could achieve high rates of fire, up to 10,000 rounds per second from one barrel. Projectile weapons are issued to a few assault or otherwise elite units.
The standard projectile handgun is the Forton PH-4m, while there are two Projectile rifles: M19 Pulse Carabine for shipboard use, while the M32A1/A5 Pulse Rifle is preferred for ground-based units.

Nerve disruptors

Nerve disruptors are energy weapons that directly destroy nerves and brain tissue. Even the penumbra of a disruptor blast could kill nerves under the skin. They are considered extreme deadly force. There are multiple types of nerve disruptor, ranging from handgun-level nerve disruptors to "cannon-grade" and fixed nerve weapons.


By definition, the Imperial Service is under the overall command of the reigning Emperor or Regent as commander-in-chief. Consequently, in his role as the Emperor's Voice, any Imperial Auditor can command military forces as he sees fit. Only the Emperor (or Regent) could override him.
Barrayar retains all the names of the various ranks when it went to a combined service: the name of the rank interchanges depending on his assignment of the moment: however, some departments merge the ground ranks and the spaceborne ones, such as ImpSec or Ops.
It is keen to note that the shape or placement of the functional designator is more important than the rank denomination. So an junior officer could be rather more prestigious than a senior officer, if that is assigned to a low level service, although this occurrence is very rare and ranks tend to coincide with the importance of the tasks assigned.
All the ranks are gridded to a strict numerical ranking with seniority rates factored in. The rank insignia (collar tabs) reflect the equivalence between various ranks. The military hierarchy was reformed several times: the last reform was conducted by the Military Hierarchy Reform Act, of 2999.
The Officer collar tabs are plastic, and mounted under the organizational or departmental insignia.

Officer ranks and insignia
Insignia Naval rank Ground rank






Lieutenant General

Lieutenant General
General Lyeĭtenant
Général de Corps d'Armée

Rear Admiral

Rear Admiral

Major General

General Maĭor
General de division



Brigadier General

Brigadier General
Brigadnyĭ General
Général de brigade









Pale Green
Lieutenant Commander

Lieutenant Commander
Capitaine de Corvette


Zemlya Kapitana
Capitaine au Sol
Oikópedo Kapetánios





Pale Blue




Warrant officers are essentially high level technicians, rather than line or staff officers: for this reason they are considered as "troopers", rather than officers commissioned by the Emperor.

Service Bases

An Imperial Service Base or ISB is a major military installation of the Imperial Service. For a facility to qualify as a Imperial Service Base, it must station one or more major units or formation. Minor installations are named Imperial Service Station (ISS) or Imperial Service Garrisons (ISG). A Station could host a single minor unit (e.g., an early warning radar station), or even a simple formation. There are several Imperial Service Stations, which are not part of any Imperial Service Base. Imperial Service Garrisons are detachments of Stations or Bases
Imperial Service operates out of 53 large branch-specific Service bases (ISB) across the planet, as well as 12 Joint bases, including the High Command. Officer cadets are educated and trained at two main Imperial Service institutions, the Imperial Military Academy and the Military College Jean Vorbarra. Officers may also be commissioned on enrolment with a degree from other academies or officer schools, although these are far less prestigious. Basic military training for non-commissioned members is provided at a variety of locations.


The Unit-at-See is a body created as part of the operational and training units of the Battalion-level and above, in order to meet the demands of life in garrison and allow the unit's personnel is not distracted from training. This body is in fact responsible for the management of the various functional areas of the barracks in order to ensure the performance of activities related to the use, the minute maintenance and infrastructure security. Units-at-See are divided into four types:

  • "A": for large barracks and, generally, those that host, in addition to parent unit/formation (Regiment or above), other agencies and/or units at the Battalion-level or above. The Unit-at-See is a Company, equipped with the organic elements to ensure its functionality and it is framed in the parent Regiment even when there are formations which do not include the Regiment tasked with the management of the facility;
  • "B": for regimental headquarters: In this case, the Unit-at-See consists of two platoons inserted within the regimental Command and Services Company (or equivalent unit);
  • "C": for the barracks where operational or training units of battalion-level are based. In this case the Unit-at-See consists of only one platoon inserted within the Command and Services Company (or equivalent unit);
  • "D": planned for detached companies.

The type "A" Unit-at-See is directly subordinated to the office of the Commander. The other types of Units-at-See have with the Commander just a technical connection.

Military administration

The administration and management are two distinct but complementary activities, through which it pursues the satisfaction of that need as they arise. By the administrative activity, the will of the deciding becomes positive norm, while by the management is concretely realized that will. The administrative activity is characterized in a particular manner in the Imperial Service. This peculiarity stems from the multiplicity and diversity of tasks performed by the Imperial Service, which operates both in time of peace or in time of war, and that, for that reason, requires a flexible and adapted to these inherent characteristics.
The military administration, as such, receives and uses the funds it needs. Once the administration has set up its act, it is necessary accounting it. In essence, the administrative functions tend to anticipate the needs, enter into contracts and place orders expenses, while accounting functions, in turn, realize the administrative action and permit controls. Both functions receive a specific discipline in those basic standards that are the sources of law and the military accounting administration, which allow derogations from the general rules of public administration.
The Administration Directorate ensures the financing of institutions administratively dependent on, through the availability of funds credited by the central government on the appropriate special accounts, and ensure accountability. Secondly, the law provides that the Administration Directorate carries out the functions of legal or administrative devolved to them in relation to the plan of the Imperial Service. Finally, it exercises administrative control of the administrative action, both during the inspection phase and in the review of acts of management and administration, also on behalf of the Central Accounting Office at the Ministry of War.
This function represents a departure from the State general accounts rules, as in other ministries the report is made to the respective Central Accounting Offices. Ultimately, the institution of the "special accounts" is a typical institution of the military administration. Also the latter task is an exception to the general ledger, which relies on the revision of accounting carried out by Central Accounting Offices at individual ministries: the same Offices, after review, submit the accounts to the Court of Audit and to the Imperial Accounting Office. As part of the Ministry of War, relations with the Court of Audit are held directly by the Administration Directorate. The "decentralized" inspection is programmed in conjunction with the Central Office of Inspection. As part of the Administration Directorate are the Inspection Offices, which assist the Director in the performance of that function.
Alongside the Administration Directorate, the Command Administration Directorates carry out the same activity - and in a independent form - in reference to the major commands.

Command structure

Command-in-chief of the Imperial Service is vested in the Emperor of Barrayar. All troop deployment and disposition orders, including declarations of war, fall within the Imperial Prerogative and are issued as Sovereign Orders, which must be signed by the monarch. The Monarch generally follows the advice of his ministers. The Emperor appoints, on the advice of the Prime Minister, a Chief of the General Staff (CGS) as the highest ranking commissioned officer in the forces, and who, as head of the High Command, commands the Service from the Imperial Service Headquarters (ISHQ) in Vorbarr Sultana. On the High Command sit the heads of the environmental commands – the Space Command, the Ground Force Command, the Air Command and the Landing Command – who collectively advice the operational commands of the Service – the Barrayar Command, the Komarr Force Command, the Sergyar Command, the External Command, the Operations Command, the Operational Support Command, the Military Intelligence Service and the Imperial Security. The sovereign and most other members of the Imperial Family also act as officers of Imperial Service.
While High Command serves, as matter of fact, as an advisory body of the General Staff, operational orders are passed from the General Staff, with the advice and consent of the Emperor, through the Commanding Officer of particular command to operating troops, units or formations.
Imperial Service operates out of 53 branch-specific Service bases (ISB) across the planet, as well as 12 Joint bases, including the High Command. Officer cadets are educated and trained at two main Imperial Service institutions, the Imperial Military Academy and the Military College Saint-Jean. Officers may also be commissioned on enrolment with a degree from other academies, although these are far less prestigious. Basic military training for non-commissioned members is provided at a variety of locations.

Commander in Chief

The Emperor as Head of State is the Commander in Chief of the Imperial Military Service and at the same time is the Head of State as he is the Commander in Chief. He is the supreme commander in chief of the Imperial Service; approves the military doctrine and appoints directly the War Minister and the Chief of the General Staff, as well as all high ranking officers; however, for what regards medium and low grades, he customarily follows military regulation in appointments, substantially delegated to the Service. The Emperor is both Commander in Chief of the whole Imperial Military Service and the Head of High Command, which enjoys the aid of the General Staff: therefore, the Chief of General Staff reports directly to the Commander in Chief, but provides the High Command, chaired by the same person who is his Commander, of the issues which have to be discussed. As Commander in Chief the Emperor directs the organization to ensure the regime of martial law, and ensures coordinated functioning and interaction of public authorities in order to ensure the regime of martial law.

High Command

The High Command of Imperial Service is the senior military body in the Barrayaran Imperial Military Service. It meets to advise His Imperial Majesty the Emperor on matters concerning the command, control and administration of the Service and the Barrayaran defence; such advices are not legally binding, but are usually followed.
The High Command is chaired by the Emperor or by the Regent and consists of the Chief of General Staff, the Vice Chief of the General Staff, the heads of each of the commands of the Service, as well as other senior officers. The General Staff is formally part of High Command itself.

List of Members of the High Command

  • Emperor Serg Vorbarra - Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Military Service
  • General Nikolai Vordarian (Executive Chairman) — Chief of the General Staff
  • Admiral Gregor Valentine — Vice Chief of the General Staff
  • Admiral Alexis Koupadopolous — Chief of the Space Forces Staff
  • General Etienne Adamamelon — Chief of the Ground Forces Staff
  • Lieutenant General Aral Byerly Phourthonous - Chief of the Orbital Forces Staff
  • Vice-Admiral Cyrill Loyd - Chief of Landing Staff
  • General Lucas Dredd - Chief of Imperial Security
  • Lieutenant General Paul Cotineau — Chief of Military Intelligence Service (formally a department within the General Staff, but admitted to High Command)
  • Lieutenant General Mikhail Vormoncrief — Chief of Military Personnel
  • Vice-Admiral David Vorparadjis — Chief of Reserves and Cadets
  • Lieutenant General David Lloyd - Inspector General of Service Security
  • Major General Arthur Gottyan — Judge Advocate General

General Staff

The General Staff of the Imperial Military Service is the military staff of the Imperial Service of the Barrayaran Imperium. It is the central organ of the Service administration and oversees operational management of the forces under the High Command. The Imperial Military Service has both a General Staff and and a separate staff for each formation.
The staff is organized by functions, with each directorate and operating agency overseeing an area. Working with the staffs of each of the services, the Operations Command drafts plans for strategic operations for the High Command. When the headquarters of the High Command approves the plans, the General Staff issues them to operational commanders as High Command directives. The General Staff Academy is responsible for training officers for the General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff is appointed by the Emperor, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The current Chief of the General Staff is General Lord Nikolai Pierre Vordarian.
General Staff is located in Vorbarr Sultana on Pobeda Avenue in the Military District, at the Imperial Service Headquarters.

Service Strategic Command

A Service Strategic Command (SSC) is a Barrayaran command composed of forces from at least two branches and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of military forces, regardless of branch of service. They are organized either on a geographical basis or on a functional basis. SSCs are the real joint commands.
Currently there are seven Service Strategic Commands. Three have regional responsibilities, and four have functional tasks. The SSCs are:

  • Barrayar Command (BARCOM)
  • Komarr Command (KOMCOM)
  • Sergyar Command (SERCOM)
  • Expeditionary and Reserve Force Headquarters (EXPRES-FORCOM)
  • Logistic Command (LOGCOM)
  • Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)
  • Defence Cyber Command (DEFCYCOM)

Each Command is led by a Field Commander, who is an Admiral or a General and exercise authority over his peers assigned to the Command. Field Commanders exercise the Field Command, a specific type of non transferable command authority over assigned forces. The Chain of Command for operational purposes goes directly from the Emperor to the Field Commanders.

Field Commanders

Each Strategic Command is headed by a full General or Admiral selected by the Emperor and confirmed by Council of Counts. The operational chain of command runs from the Emperor to the Minister of War to the Field Commanders. The Chief of General Staff can transmit communications to the Field Commanders from the Emperor and Minister of War, but does not exercise direct military command over any combatant forces. Each combatant command can be led by a general or flag officer from any of the services and branches, with the sole exception of Imperial Security, which runs a completely separated chain of command.

Transportation Command

The Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) is one of six Strategic Commands. The mission of TRANSCOM is to provide air, ground and space transportation for the Imperial Military Service. As the single manager of Barrayar's transportation system, TRANSCOM is tasked to allow the Imperium to project and sustain forces, whenever, wherever, and for as long as they are needed.
TRANSCOM is organized independently from the regional Strategic Commands, and deploys internal subdivision according to the environment:

  • Air Transportation Command (ATC): the air component of TRANSCOM.
  • Space Transportation Command (STC): TRANSCOM's spacelift component, provides efficient space transportation.
  • Ground Deployment and Distribution Command (GDDC): is the overland lift component and primary surface distribution manager for TRANSCOM. GDDC's mission is to provide surface deployment command and control and distribution operations.

The three branches of TRANSCOM are equally assigned to each operational command (the three regional and EXPRESCOM).

Defence Cyber Command

The Defence Cyber Command centralizes command of cyberspace operations, organizes existing cyber resources and synchronizes defence of Barrayaran military networks.

Logistic Command

The Logistic Command (LOGCOM) is one of six Strategic Commands. The mission of LOGCOM is to conduct activities and to develop an harmonious management of command, coordination and control over all formations of the logistics. In particular, the Command provides the logistical support of the Units and Formations at home and abroad, being responsible for the care of personnel and logistics for materials and equipment in use and use of financial resources allocated to logistics sector.
Commander Logistics is the adviser to the Chief of Staff for everything related to logistical support. He is also responsible for managing the maintenance of vehicles and equipment and organizational support to operational departments. To carry out the task, organize, direct and supervise the activities of the Army logistics through its command structure.
Commander Logistics also oversees, in consultation with the Commander of Land Forces, when ready for administrative and logistical support activities relating to operations / exercises both nationally and internationally.
The command is placed under the command of a Lieutenant General, from which depends directly on the Military Geographical Institute, and is divided into:

  • Staff: includes five offices (Personnel, Logistics Operations, Movements and Transport, Army Information Systems, Financial Planning). Provides organizational support to the functional departments of the Command for the coordination work.
  • Department of Combat Materials: the Head of Department and Deputy Commander Logistics provides advice to the Commander Logistics on the management of resources and equipment in service. There are 4 maintenance poles: two for heavy equipment, one for the light equipment, one for TLC. Also a Armoured and Tracked vehicles Land Fleet and 3 equipment depots (Motorization and Engineers, Artillery and Telecommunications) depend on the Department.
  • Department of Administration and Commissariat: includes the Office of Logistics and the Office of Materials. The Head of Department and Deputy Commander Logistics provides advice to the Commander Logistic on problems of legal, financial, legal - administrative, administrative-financial and technical support. On the Department depends the Army Administrative Centre.
  • Technical Department: includes the Tech-Recruitment and Tech-Training Office, the Office of Accident-Occupational Health-Environmental Protection-Infrastructures and the Centre for Testing and Technical Centre for Defence Command NBC. Provides advice to the Commander Logistic about the work of testing and evaluation technique for dell'idonetità use of all means, materials, weapons systems, components and equipment of interest of the Service.
  • Health Department: the Department has under its authority the Imperial Military Hospital, the Research Centre of Health of the Army. The Head Department provides advice to the Commander of Logistics on issues on health and also updates the state of equipment in service.
  • Department of Veterinary: the Department has its dupendenze Military Vet Centre and the Military Veterinary Hospital. The Head of the Department provides advice to the Commander Logistics Logistic problems of veterinary and also updates the state of equipment in service.
  • Military Geographical Institute: The Military Geographical Institute is responsible for providing cartographic support to Army units and commands. The Institute acts as the Cartographic Institute of the State.

The following units and departments depend on the Command:

  • 10 Heavy Maintenance Centres (Fleet Orbital Depots included, but operationally managed by the relevant Space Command)
  • 10 Small Arms Maintenance Clusters
  • 3 Maintenance of electronic telecommunications Centres
  • 1 Multi-purpose Centre of Experimental Studies
  • Imperial Military Hospital
  • Health and Veterinary Research Centre
  • Military Veterinary Centre
  • Transportation Security Troops: The Transportation Security Troops are a subdivision within the Logistic Command. They are designed to perform the tasks of rail services (preparation, construction and reconstruction of the objects of mono-railways).

Regional Commands

The Imperial Service has four major regional commands:

  • Barrayar Command (BARCOM)
  • Komarr Command (KOMCOM)
  • Sergyar Command (SERCOM)
  • Expeditionary and Reserve Force Headquarters (EXPRES-FORCOM)

These regional commands are a type of Service Strategic Command, formations which are responsible for a certain area: the three planets and the foreign space. They are more responsible for administrative than operational matters and handle parts of the conscription cycle.
The Regional Commands operate under the command of the Regional Headquarter, headed by the district commander, and is subordinated to the Chief of General Staff. They are a territorial association of military units, formations, military schools, and various local military establishments. The subdividions of the Regional Commands conforms to the civilian boundaries. The Commander of the military district is named (name) Commander of (e.g. "BARCOM Commander"), with all troops, military institutions and military ranks of the military region subordinated to him. Control of Regional Commands includes the Regional Command Council and functional Regional Command Staff (e.g. "BARCOM Staff") and the administrations of the various branches.
The approval of the Regional Commander is required for all new construction or significant structural variations interesting large road and rail communications, as well as for all the interesting jobs dams, mines maritime, hydro, large industrial plants, power plants, electrical high potential, large deposits of mineral oils, oil pipelines, gas pipelines, in any part of the territory the works are carried out.

Imperial Service Districts

The Imperial Service Districts are the spatial organizations subordinate to Regional Commands. While there is one space-based Imperial Service District in each Regional Command, there are from three to five ground-based Imperial Service Districts which are each related with ground forces upper formations. The commander of each peacetime Field Army thus serves a dual role as the commander of the Imperial Service District and the commander of the Field Army in question. During wartime, each Field Army is upgraded to a Field Army Group, the deputy commander of the Field Army assuming the wartime command of the Imperial Service District and reporting to the Rear Services Command: responsibilities of training, conscription, supply, and equipment during wartime are entrusted to this Command, which in turn depends on the Operations Command.

Expeditionary and Reserve Force Command

The Expeditionary and Reserve Force Command is an operational element of the Imperial Service for operations outside of the Empire. Under the Imperial Service structure, Expeditionary and Reserve Forces Command is the unified command that is responsible for all Service international operations, with the exception of operations conducted solely by Special Forces Command elements. The EXPRES-FORCOM Commander reports directly to the Chief of General Staff and its headquarters is located in Solstice, Komarr: EXPRES-FORCOM responsibility covers all units in operational missions from the time they are ready for deployment until their return to Barrayar.

Imperial Sectors

As well as having a presence in all Barrayaran embassies, Imperial Service runs several Sector Headquarters, which are commanded by flag officers. The Sectors provide to a strategic coverage of the Nexus by Barrayaran forces, managing the local Barrayaran military spaceships: they are often located within local Embassies, as well as secretive local stations.

Military Personnel Command

The Military Personnel Command is the command that coordinates the activities related to recruitment, to reserve and to propaganda. The command, which reports directly to the Chief of the General Staff directs all Logistics Bases and exercises duties of "Area Command" for the specific sector.
The Military Personnel Command is divided into two autonomous commands (Komarr and Sergyar), two military regions (North and South) and 19 Territorial Military Commands on Barrayar.

Space Forces Command

The Space Forces Command (SPAFORCOM), also known informally as the Imperial Navy, is the spaceborne force of the Imperial Service. While equal in rank and position, the Chief of the Space Staff takes precedence over the Chiefs of Staff following the tradition of the Imperial Navy. The naval fleet command is mostly dominated by Vor officers, while ground and other space high ranking posts are open also to non-Vor capable officers, such as the Barrayaran jump point defences, although within the highest ranks Vors are spread through the Staff positions.
SPAFORCOM is the descendant of the Imperial Navy. In 2901, immediately after the Vordarian Pretendership, the Imperial Navy was merged with the Army to form the new Imperial Military Service. Since 2993 SPAFORCOM's ships are commissioned as His Majesty's Ships, and the initialism HMS designates them.

Landing Forces Command

The Barrayaran Landing Forces are the space-landing force of the Imperial Service. There is at least one infantry brigade permanently attached to each of the major fleets. In total the Landing Forces Command numbers 16,000 men on board the fleet with little organic fire power or support; if committed to combat the "Fleet Brigades" would require reinforcement within less than a week. The Barrayaran military doctrine calls for the Landing Forces to be used as shock troops spearheading an assault that would be followed up by ground forces.
Its primary wartime missions is to seize and hold strategic places and to make spaceborne tactical landings behind enemy lines as well as defending critical basing areas. They are troops intended for landing, or which have already landed on enemy-occupied territory for the purpose of conducting combat operations. According to the transportation method used, a landing force may be amphibious, airborne, or combined; and according to its scale and purpose, such a force may be strategic, operational, or tactical.
The Landing forces formations are equipped with armoured fighting vehicles, artillery and anti-aircraft guns, trucks and off-road vehicles. Thus LF units and formations possess superior mobility and firepower with these vehicles. Each division has all three regiments equipped with them and their derivatives.

Orbital Forces Command

The Orbital Forces Command (ORBIFORCOM), also known informally as the Starfighter Command, is the command responsible for orbital deployments and interceptor (both suborbital only and capable of non differentiated flight inside ad outside orbit and atmosphere) assets of the Imperial Service. While equal in rank and position, the Chief of the Orbital Forces Staff takes precedence over the Landing Forces Command. The spacefighter fleet command is mostly dominated by non-Vor officers.
ORBIFORCOM is the descendant of both the Imperial Air Force and of some assets of the Imperial Navy. In 2901, immediately after the Vordarian Pretendership, the Imperial Air Forces was merged with the other Armed Forces to form the new Imperial Military Service. Since 2993 ORBIFORCOM's crafts are commissioned as His Majesty's Starfighter, with the initialism HMSF designating them, or His Majesty's Orbital Platform, with the initialism HMOP which identifies them. While the LANFORCOM has a naval hierarchy, the ORBIFORCOM has a ground-based ranks system, also because the now-disbanded Imperial Air Forces retained a rank system very similar to those of the Army.
It should be clear that ORBIFORCOM assets do not contain all starfighters or all interceptors and orbital military satellites: not only the Logistics Command handles on its own significant suborbital and orbital crafts, but the Space Forces and Ground Forces have environment-dedicated crafts on their own: the Space Forces embark SPAFORCOM shuttles and interceptors, and may embark also ORBIFORCOM assets if required; on a similar way, the GROFORCOM has several low-altitude vehicles.

Ground Forces Command

The Ground Forces Command (GROFORCOM), often called the Army, is responsible for land and ground operations within the Imperial Service. GROFORCOM maintains regular forces units at bases across the whole Barrayaran Imperium.
GROFORCOM is the descendant of the Imperial Army, which was the name of Barrayaran land forces until the Vordarian Pretendership.
The Central Command of the Ground Forces, based in Vorbarr Sultana, directs activities. It consists of the Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces, and departments for Operational Forces, Land Armaments (jointly with the General Staff).
The branches of service include motorized rifles, tanks, artillery and missile forces, troop air defence, special corps (reconnaissance, signals, chemical and biological protection, technical support, automotive, and the protection of the rear), military units, and logistical establishments. Due to the relatively small planetary population, the Ground Forces are an highly mechanized and mobile combatant mass. The mechanized infantry is the basic component of all formation and light infantry is fully motorized. Barrayaran ground forces are trained to be swift, violent and destructive, in order to compensate for fewer troops available.
This military doctrine requires the presence of a relatively small military units alongside a number of elite and specialized units: this is combined with doctrine of the Imperial Service of combined arms. This doctrine seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects.
The Brigade is the basic building block of a Barrayaran fighting force.

Special Forces

Special Forces of the Imperial Service are intended for conducting covert combat operations at the rear of the enemy positions. Missions carried out by Special Forces determine its combat training methodologies that are different from regular combat training; great attention is paid to hand-to-hand combat with the use of Martial Arts techniques. Another important aspect in preparing Special Forces is capability to use hand-held weapon systems.
Main object of Special Services is to engage and destroy enemy despite their arms/manpower superiority. In order to achieve this objective Special Forces outfitted with custom designed weapons systems. Among wide array of weapons system the most prominent place is reserved for knives.

Military Intelligence Service

The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) is a major producer and manager of military intelligence. The MIS provides military intelligence to war fighters, defence policy makers and force planners within the Imperial Service and the intelligence complex. The MIS was established in 2870 as a result of a decision by Emperor Ezar Vorbarra.

Service Security

The Service Security is the military police and security force for the Barrayaran Imperial Service. They are separate from both Imperial Security and the Imperial Police Force.
The SerSec has a direct function to cope and prosecute cases of espionage that threaten state security, protection plans and military installations, as well as any other project and experiment to keep secret. The SerSec is under the direct functional control of the High Command and the operational and hierarchical control of the General Staff. The Service Security includes the Service Security Investigation Division, the investigation arm, the Service Prison and Detention Barracks and the Service Security School. The Commandant General reports to the Vice Chief of General Staff.

Judge Advocate General

The Office of the Judge Advocate General for the Imperial Service provides legal advice to commanders, provides lawyers who defend accused persons at courts martial, teaches courses to other Service members or advises a commanding officer in an operational theatre to uphold the ethical and legal principles established. The office consists of 1546 legal officer positions.

Military education and training

In the Imperial Service, military education consists of several levels, according to the distinct service occupational levels.

General Staff Academy

The General Staff Academy of the Imperial Service is a Barrayaran military academy, established in 2899. It is the senior professional school for officers. The GSA trains Imperial Service officers of all arms and branches from the rank of Major/Commander. The Academy offers two principal courses and one additional course. Those who graduate from the additional course use to join the General Staff duty, while all alumni have the right to obtain an accelerated promotion to the next rank and to commanding posts. The academy uses to employ some of the best military theoreticians and historians.
The General Staff Academy is located in Vorbarr Sultana, not far from the Imperial Military Academy. The "best and the brightest" officers of all the Imperial Service are selected to attend this Academy.
The courses duration is two years, in contrast to the three years for the basic academies.

Officer training

People may earn an officer commission in the Imperial Service through Officer Cadet Schools or through the Imperial Military Academy, which is the most prestigious and exclusive military institute. Due to the relatively low number of officer posts, selection and training aim both to produce an exceptional concentration of managerial talent both at the highest and at intermediate levels. OCS and Imperial Military Academy are similar in structure, both providing to active duties newly commissioned Ensigns, although, in the chain of command, graduates of the Imperial Military Academy are considered higher in seniority compared to professional officers of the same rank who graduate from specialized Military Schools or from Officer Cadet School.
The Service admission process for officers includes 3 steps. First, the standard recruitment interview verifies name and ID, qualifications for officers' training, certificate of medical fitness, references and sponsors, planet of origin. Further interview occurs only in special cases: officers interviews the candidate on his history, his motivations for volunteering, his academic research, and special life occurrences.
For those who are rejected, there is an appeals process: the candidate has to write a case for its own. Few days later there is a a third interview, where fast-penta can be used at candidate's discretion. However, if the candidate refuses he is certainly rejected.

Officer Cadet School

In the Imperial Service, Officer Cadet Schools (OCS) are training programs for enlisted personnel and recent college graduates to earn commissions as officers. The courses last from ten to seventeen weeks and include classroom instruction in military subjects, physical training, and leadership. OCS is a rigorous 12-week course designed to train, assess, evaluate, and develop Ensigns for the Imperial Service's basic branches. However, upon completion of OCS programs, graduates are commissioned as Ensigns and then attend the rest of their Basic Officer Leadership courses.
Officer Candidate Schools are a 12 week long program for both prior service and non-prior service candidates. Candidates with no prior military service will first attend Basic Combat Training. Upon completion of either OCS programs, graduates are commissioned as Ensigns and then attend the rest of their Basic Officer Leadership courses within their destination branches.

Imperial Military Academy

The Imperial Military Academy is the most prestigious academic institution of Barrayar, established in the Military Educational Complex in the boroughs of Vorbarr Sultana. The Imperial Military Academy in Vorbarr Sultana qualifies them for command tasks. Its task is to select and proceed to the training of future officers of the Imperial Service in a course of study for three years. The Imperial Military Academy also has the privilege of guarding the Imperial War Banner.

Basic Training

Basic Training is the program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become a fighter in the Imperial Service. It is carried out at several different posts. Basic Training is designed to be highly intense and challenging. The challenge comes as much from the difficulty of physical training as it does from the required quick psychological adjustment to an unfamiliar way of life.
Basic Training is divided into two parts: Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.
Basic Combat Training (BCT) consists of the first sixteen weeks of the total Basic Training period, and is identical for all recruits. This is where individuals learn about the fundamentals of being a soldier, from combat techniques to the proper way to address a superior. BCT is also where individuals undergo rigorous physical training to prepare their bodies for the eventual physical strain of combat. One of the most difficult and essential lessons learned in BCT is self-discipline, as it introduces prospective soldiers to a strict daily schedule that entails many duties and high expectations for which most civilians are not immediately ready. During the Basic Combat Training, soldiers are subjected to a tough, realistic training for a period of 16 weeks, and was put in front of all situations, often unforeseeable, which may arise in combat.
The Advanced Individual Training (AIT) consists of the remainder of the total Basic Training period, and is where recruits train in the specifics of their chosen field. As such, AIT is different for each available military occupational speciality. AIT courses can last anywhere from 6 to 52 weeks. Although many AIT schools do not centre around combat the way BCT does, individuals are still continually tested for physical fitness and weapons proficiency, and are subject to the same duties, strict daily schedule, and disciplinary rules as in BCT.

Preparatory Schools

The Preparatory Schools are a type of privileged military boarding school reserved for sons of for Vors and high-ranking officers of 12-17. Education in such these schools focuses on military related subjects. This type of schools is created in order to provide Vor boys of school age with a secondary education specializing in military subjects and training. On Barrayar is generally accepted that the best way for a Vor officer to start his career is to attend one of the very smart Preparatory Schools. The Preparatory schools are subordinate to the Chief of General Staff of the Imperial Service. Currently, there are seven active Preparatory Schools.

Page Corps

The Imperial Corps of Pages is a privileged Preparatory School reserved for sons of High Vors and high-ranking officers. Except by personal appointment of the Emperor or as a son of a full General or Admiral, admission was only by a difficult competitive examination. Only the sons or grandsons of the sixty Counts are eligible to apply. All graduates are assigned to the imperial regiment of their choice. The students serve as pages at Court and provide services at ceremonies, including attendance upon individual members of the Imperial family. The Graduates from the Corps des Pages have the unique privilege of joining any regiment of their own choice regardless of the existing vacancies (however, as a matter of etiquette, the consent of the unit's commander is sought long beforehand).

Medical Command

The Medical Command (MEDCOM) is an important command of the Imperial Service - although not part of Service Strategic Commands - that provides command and control of the Service's fixed-facility medical, dental, and veterinary treatment facilities, providing preventive care, medical research and development and training institutions. MEDCOM is commanded by the Service Surgeon General, currently Lieutenant General Patrick Horonsilov.


MEDCOM is divided into four Regional Medical Commands that oversee day-to-day operations in military treatment facilities, exercising command and control over the medical treatment facilities in their regions.

  • Barrayar Regional Medical Command
  • Komarr Regional Medical Command
  • Sergyar Regional Medical Command
  • Expeditionary and Overspace Regional Medical Command

Additional subordinate commands of MEDCOM include:

  • Medical Department Centre & School (MEDEP)
  • Veterinary Command (VETCOM)
  • Medical Research and Materiel Command
  • Warrior Transition Command

Surgeon General

The Surgeon General is the senior-most officer of the Medical Command. His office and staff are known as the Office of the Surgeon General and are located in Vorbarr Sultana, Barrayar.
As a Commanding General, the Surgeon General provides advice and assistance to the Chief of General Staff and to the Minister of War on all health care matters pertaining to the Imperial Service - with the severe exception of Imperial Security - its military health care system. He is responsible for development, policy direction, organization and overall management of an integrated Army-wide health service system and is the medical materiel developer for the Service. These duties include formulating policy regulations on health service support, health hazard assessment and the establishment of health standards. The Surgeon General is assisted by a Deputy Surgeon General.

Medical Department Centre

The Medical Department of the Imperial Service (abbreviated as the MEDEP) comprises the Service's six Medical Special Branches of officers and enlisted medical soldiers. The MEDEP is led by the Surgeon General, a Lieutenant general. The MEDEP is the Service's healthcare organization, not a command. Its headquarters are in Fort General Selig Vorkosigan, Seilgrad, Vorkosigan District, Barrayar, which hosts the MEDEP Centre and School.
The Academy and Training Campus of Health Sciences, under the Medical Department Centre & School, placed within the complex of the Imperial Military Hospital, provides training to the officers and enlisted soldier members of the MEDEP.

Imperial Military Hospital

The Imperial Military Hospital is the major hospital complex in Vorbarr Sultana, Barrayar, and is the elite military hospital and bio-medical facility within the Imperium. It is staffed by military doctors and researchers of the Imperial Service, but also by the Imperial Service Women's Auxiliary.
One of the buildings in the complex is the biochemistry research facility; the work done there includes development of military poisons and antidotes. The main hospital overlooks the big river that flows through Vorbarr Sultana.

Medical Special Branches

There are currently six special officer branches (corps) in the MEDEP.

  • Medical Branch: the Medical Branch consists entirely of commissioned medical officers who are physicians (doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathic medicine) who have either completed at least one year of post-graduate training (internship) or have been promoted from Ensign to Ground-Captain/Lieutenant Commander. The Chief of the Medical Branch is a major general. Military physicians serve in one of several general career fields. The three main fields are operational field, clinical field, and research field.
  • Nurse Branch: the Branch's aim is all actions and tasks must lead and work toward promoting the wellness of Soldiers and their families, supporting the delivery of Soldier and family healthcare, and all those entrusted to military care.
  • Dental Branch: the Dental Branch consists of commissioned officers holding the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. The chief of the Dental Branch is a major general. Enlisted soldiers may be assigned as dental assistants.
  • Veterinary Branch: the Veterinary Branch is established in recognition of the need for veterinary expertise. The Veterinary Branch consists of commissioned doctors of veterinary medicine. Warrant officers are the core of its food inspection service, while troops can serve as food inspection specialists and veterinary technicians.
  • Medical Specialist Branch: the Medical Specialist Branch consists entirely of commissioned officers. Members hold professional degrees and serve as clinical dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physician assistants. Members of the branch serve all around the world and at all echelons of the Service.
  • Medical Service Branch: the Medical Service Branch consists entirely of commissioned and warrant officers. Members are required to hold at least a bachelors degree before receiving a commission. The Branch is a very diverse branch, with members performing the greatest range of duties. Members perform administrative and support duties, clinical support roles or commanders of field medical units in garrison and combat environments. Member officers also provide health care to patients as psychologists, social workers, etc.. The Medical Service Branch also functions as a transitional branch, encompassing students who have not completed their training. Since a primary function of the Medical Service Corps is to manage combat health support activities, its officers can compete for company and field grade command of medical support formations and detachments, while Medical Branch and Dental Branch officers are limited to command billets specific to their respective corps.

Orbital Traffic Control Command

See also: Air and orbital traffic control in Barrayar

The Orbital Traffic Control Command (OTC-COM) is the national aviation authority of the Barrayaran Imperium. An military command of the Imperial Service, it is functionally dependent on Ministry of Posts and Communications and therefore has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil and military orbital and suborbital aviation in the Empire, including all three inhabited planets. The OTC-COM's major roles include:

  • Regulating commercial space transportation
  • Regulating air navigation facilities' geometry and flight inspection standards
  • Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
  • Issuing, suspending, or revoking pilot certificates
  • Regulating civil aviation to promote safety, especially through Flight Standards District Offices
  • Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
  • Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
  • Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of aviation

Imperial Service Women's Auxiliary

Current ISWA Commanding Officer, General Henriette Deamurer.

The Imperial Service Women's Auxiliary is the female auxiliary of the Imperial Military Service, established in 2919. The branch is kept separate from the other, regular branches of the Barrayaran military. ISWA serves primarily for medical and security duties related to other women, in order to prevent abuses and improper and non-searched conditioning, but also as operative or support troops. The roles performed are non-combatant roles such as medical staff, military law enforcement (particularly dealing with female suspects and criminals), interrogation technicians and similar duties, being a serious additional military service that could supply people to work directly for people in the main, all-male, service.
In recent decades, the ISWA greatly expanded its role, and nowadays can be found in most of the Imperial Service branches. Usually, a female officer is in charge of the ISWA detachment personnel in the particular context, while the operational chain of command does intertwines with the male Imperial Service; however, only in some cases the overall commanding officer is a ISWA female officer.
Traditionally, ISWA General officers do not wear military rank insignia on Dress Greens, but carry a small electronic cylinder containing all their information in their stead. However, on Undress Greens and on Red-and-Blues, they do carry their rank insignia. This tradition originates from the Escobaran War, when logistic problems meant the scarcity of uniform accessories for noncombatant personnel. Up to date, the ISWA is the only Imperial Service organisation which retains this distinctive privilege after the 2962 Rank Insignia Regulation (Equality Measure) which granted the rank insignia on uniforms to every organisation related to the Imperial Service, and after the 2999 Rank Insignia Regulation (Women's Rights Measure), which granted again this prerogative to the ISWA.

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