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The standard pillars of the Imperium of Man stand as Purge the xenos/burn the heretic/kill the mutant. So obviously they violently oppose all mutant races, heretics and aliens. But the Ogryn are described as being a mutant/differently evolved subspecies of human.

Why are Ogryn the exception? Why are they allowed into the Imperial Guard and even at time allowed to be squad leaders?

'Blessed is the mind closed to doubt' may apply, as they are too dumb to question most things, but they have shown an equal tendency to be corrupted by Chaos as regular Imperial Guard, so this is not a significant enough advantage.

Is there any lore that explains why they were even given a chance and not outright exterminated?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have edited your question to comply with the don't signal edits in text convention we use here. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 4 '16 at 21:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ogryns are not the only exceptions. The same goes for Ratlings and Squats. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Aug 5 '16 at 8:58
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Ogryns being able to lead squads of their own kind is the result of the Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement treatment, or the BONE treatment. This makes them more intelligent and capable enough to serve as sergeants called Bone'eads. Ogryns that seem to be smart enough for this are tested and, if they come out as positive, undergo this treatment. Exactly how much smarter they become is unclear.

As for their acceptance, Ogryns are not very smart but very loyal, will follow orders to the letter and have an unshakable faith in the Emperor, seeing all orders given to them as having come from His Imperial Majesty himself. Furthermore, they are very strong, carry big guns (or other weapons) and can rip enemies in half with their bare hands, making them very useful on the battlefield.

Not all elements within the Imperium like them, because they are abhumans. For example, the Monodominant faction within the Inquisition wants to exterminate all beings who are not pure humans, like Abhumans, mutants, Psykers, Navigators, Astropaths and Space Marines. But for the time being the contributions of the Ogryns seem to outweight the naysayers, and as such they remain under arms.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to point out this parcel of text, taken from the lexicanum page. That does not directly limit them to Only War. "The unit consists of squads, each led by an Ogryn Sergeant who has received BONE treatment, allowing them to communicate orders to their squad." wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Ogryn#Imperial_Guard \$\endgroup\$ – Jarad Ducroq May 4 '16 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JaradDucroq Notice the sentence before that: "Units of Ogryns are instead attached to the regiments of other worlds." You get a combined arms force that way, not a mix of Ogryns and humans on the lowest organisation level. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs May 4 '16 at 11:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I was referring to Ogryn being put in charge of other Ogryn, as a squad or as a detachment to another IG force. Not neccesarily an Ogryn sergeant in charge of humans, that would never happen. I was inquiring into the fact that they have been given greater authority over their own kind \$\endgroup\$ – Jarad Ducroq May 4 '16 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JaradDucroq I see. Updated the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs May 4 '16 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe you have answered my question, thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Jarad Ducroq May 4 '16 at 11:53

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