"Universal peace-time conscription was adopted by almost all countries as the basis of their military system. This ensured that wars would grow bigger in scale, longer in duration, and worse in effects."
- – B. H. Liddell Hart, The Revolution in Warfare, 1946
Whiteshields are the portmanteau calling of newly enlisted conscripts. In fact, the term conscripts and whiteshields are often one and the same. These guys are the noobs in the Call of Duty lobby. Completely new, fresh and inexperienced in the proverbial ass raping they are gonna endure. They are not quite on the levels of a Penal legion, but they are close.
So named because of their...well...white painted stripe on their helmets. These chumps fight in actual combat as part of their latter training, until they have proven themselves ready to join the regiment as full Guardsmen.
Officially designated as probitors, they are more commonly called whiteshields, as well as cadets, probationers or gun babies. Whiteshields are the sons fathered by Guardsmen during their posting and raised within the regiment. However, most of the time, these conscripts are hastily conscripted men, raised from surrounding planets when shit has clearly hit the fan. In times of great emergency, the Departmento Munitorum will demand local Governors raise vast quantities of troops for immediate action. Such measures can see entire cities or continents all but emptied and its citizens sent off to fight.
In the case of Cadian regiments, Whiteshields are instead members of their Cadia's Youth Armies. As they are not yet considered true Guardsmen, Whiteshields do not wear unit insignia - the only markings they are allowed to wear are blank white badges as well the aforementioned white helmet stripe that distinguishes them. Imperial Guard Regiments are generally posted to combat zones far from their homeworlds, and it is rarely practical to recruit from the homeworlds to replace casualties. Regiments that are left to garrison a world they have conquered instead gain recruits by drafting the sons of the regiment's Guardsmen when they come of age. Children fathered by Guardsmen are usually brought up within the regiment. They perform menial and support duties that would otherwise eat into the regiment's fighting strength.
Promotion from Whiteshield to Guardsman is seen as a changing point in a recruit's life. They are afterwards considered adults and given the right to wear the regimental symbols on their uniform, and often receive ritual scars and tattoos.
Combat Effeciency and Equipment
A Whiteshield Conscript squad consists of a massive squad of anywhere from twenty to fifty conscripts, operating as one unit. Due to their lack of training and combat experience, they are denied access to the arsenal of special weapons the Imperial Guard has to offer. Instead, the squad is issued the basic loadout of Flak Armour and Lasguns.
Hilariously enough, despite the fluff depicting them as nearly above Grots in terms of effectiveness, in terms of crunch, these guys are one of the most point-efficient lads available in the IG army list. They come in dozens for cheap, often enough to bubble-wrap important shit from being targeted, and are quite proficient in their Lasguns. Whilst they do not make great troops and their BS is lower than that of a Guardsmen, certain regimental abilities such as First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire plus an Imperial commander or a commissar would turn these guys into a force to be reckoned with. Just tell the countless Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine players whose Chapter Master caught 70+ Lasgun bolts to the face.