Formed from the Secret Service after the assassination of President Blaine, the Presidential Guard is now the only institution of the old Republic's government that still has power in the Coalition of Western Republics. The Presidential Guard serves as the bodyguard of the Supreme Director, the Coalition Council and protector of the Columbia System. Although nominally under the Directorate of Defense, the Presidential Guard only relies on its parent directorate for funding, operating under a completely independent command structure that answers to the Supreme Director alone.
The formation of the Presidential Guard dates back to the days of the old Republic, when President James G. Blaine was assassinated in 1886 by the Ku Klux Klan, a radical anti-government group that was responsible for many crimes during the War on Treason. Ironically, Blaine was a moderate and was preparing to end the occupation of the former Confederacy, but his insistence on black suffrage made him an enemy in the eyes of the KKK. This act would extend Reconstruction to the turn of the century and made a country that lost two presidents to insurgents look back at the security of its politicians. The Secret Service was criticized as not being imposing enough and was reformed as the Presidential Guard, Now under the Department of War, the Guard was a proper military force and not a repurposed anti-counterfeiting unit. A new black uniform, based on designs from the German and Russian empires, was designed intentionally to intimidate would-be assassins. The Guard would accompany the President to any public event, marching in lock-step before him and aim their weapons at the crowd for the entire duration of the event. Like the Royal Guards of the United Kingdom, the Presidential Guard were famous for their stoicism. This was seemingly effective, as while many European leaders were assassinated by communist and anarchist groups during the turn of the century, no American president suffered the same fate during this era.
Although successful for most of the 20th century, the Guard was unable to prevent the assassination of President Jack Miller during the Great Emergency. His successor, President Hill, would use this failure as an excuse to purge the Guard's officer corps and replace them with his men. The Guard would now answer to the President and the President alone, circumventing the Department of War. Unlike Miller, Hill was willing to use the Guard as an anti-riot force in Washington D.C and immediately ordered the city to be boxed in to prevent any rioters from leaving. The Guard was then ordered to kill everyone in the streets; any dissenting Guardsmen were shot by their officers. This marked the transition of the Presidential Guard from its purely defensive role to that of political police in the capital. Guardsmen filled the Capitol Building and Supreme Court Building, arresting and immediately executing any who dare speak out against President Hill. The Guard all but replaced Washington, D.C's police force, only retracting from this role at the end of the Great Emergency. When Hill was crowned Emperor of the United States, he retained the office of President and decided to keep the organization's name the same. Throughout the Imperial era the Guard would remain a paramilitary force, albeit one that maintained a separate navy, air force and missile command. The Guard was the throne's check on the rest of the United States military as it was able to start a nuclear war independently of the War Department.
During the Endless War, the Presidential Guard would remain thoroughly loyal to the Imperial throne, fighting communists, German and Slavic nationalists and a small far-right political organization called the National Conservatives. The Presidential Guard on Columbia Prime fought to the last man during final defense of the Imperial Palace, slaughtering four times their number in National Conservative troops. The victorious National Conservatives respected the Presidential Guard and admired them for their bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. Unlike most Imperial institutions, the Presidential Guard was kept during the formation of the Coalition of Western Republics. The few Guard officers in Coalition hands were defectors and only had a basic knowledge of the Guard's practices; surviving Imperial records provided little information.
The new Guard was therefore mostly built from scratch, acting as the defenders of Columbia Prime, the Supreme Director and the Coalition Council. While having little in common with the old Guard (they have retained the Imperial-era uniforms), it would quickly match and surpass its predecessor's horrific legacy. Instead of taking in adult volunteers, Guardsmen are trained from small children who cannot remember their parents or any life outside of the Guard. Initially these were the starving orphans of the Endless War but later recruits come from ghettos, enemy populations or are the offspring of the military's "comfort women." Immediately these young Guardsmen are taught that their lives serve one purpose: to serve the Supreme Director. Without the Supreme Director and the Coalition state, they are useless, for they are but cogs in the greater Coalition machine and a cog's only purpose is its part in the machine. Their identities in any social setting are based on how loyal they are to the Supreme Director and how quickly and properly they follow orders. The best food and toys are given to the most obedient children; the least obedient get to sleep on the cold concrete outside of the barracks. Those who are lagging behind are mocked mercilessly by their peers and tutors, often driving them to suicide by their teens. Fights between children are encouraged, as a Guardsman who does not know how to defend himself is a useless Guardsman. Military and survival training begins at the age of nine; live ammunition is used by the time the recruits turn thirteen. Often, this training is fighting against captured prisoners of war or other Guard recruits; lethal force is a requirement. By the age of eighteen, all surviving recruits are sent to "Hell Month," a thirty-day training course on the deserts of Columbia III. There they will put all of their skills to the test. No aid is given and those who do not make it out alive fail the test. After Hell Month, the survivors become Guardsmen. Only five percent of recruits become Guardsmen, but because the Coalition has billions of children at its disposal it only needs five percent.
But a Guardsman's training is not complete after Hell Month. After becoming a Guardsman trainee, they can choose between the Guard Army, Guard Aviation Corps or the Guard Navy and they are further trained in those respects. As the Guard are equipped with the newest military gadgets the Coalition creates, they are also de facto guinea pigs for new weapons systems. Only after they have mastered the specialized equipment each branch requires do the Guardsmen enter the ranks of the Presidential Guard, but during this training a Guardsman has the choice to quit and join another branch of the Coalition military. For all of their training, the Presidential Guard are rarely deployed in battlefields, for their intended purpose is to defend the Supreme Director. They are most often used in military parades, where they impressively march in lockstep before and alongside the Supreme Director's convoy, sporting the best uniforms and guns the Coalition can afford. They also serve as the de facto commanders of the nearly-powerless Columbia System Guard and Columbia Prime Police Department, using the latter two organizations as pawns when problems arise that do not deserve Guard attention.