What follows are excerpts from a lesser known article by current Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov. It was first published in 2013 under the title “Special, Non-Linear, and Hybrid War on Christmas” in the Zhurnal Voiny Protiv Rozhdestva (Journal of the War Against Christmas).
In the 21st century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of peaceful coexistence with Christmas and waging war against it. Wars on Christmas are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template. This is in stark contrast to what we traditionally understand as War on Christmas or Anti-Christmas Warfare. Whereas those traditional methods as a rule involved open, kinetic anti-Christmas warfare, changes in the 21st century have made this strategy wholly obsolete, and thus we find ourselves in need of a new doctrine, a 4th Generation War on Christmas.
In order to understand why such an evolution is necessary, we must first analyze the massive changes which have occurred in the past three decades when it comes to the Christmas battlespace. There was a time when anti-Christmas warfare was a simple matter of saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” At this same time, the typical campaign season began the day after Thanksgiving. However trends have shifted for two very important reasons. One reason is the tendency for Thanksgiving to fall as much as eight days before the end of November, adding considerable additional time for deployment long before December even begins. Here we may also include the fact that in recent years the Christmas campaign season has actually started to overlap with the Thanksgiving holiday, so that planners can no longer take it for granted that Christmas-related conflict will begin no sooner than the day after Thanksgiving, i.e. Black Friday. But it is the second major change which merits extra scrutiny, as it forms the main impetus for a sea change in Christmas warfighting doctrine.
Lessons from the Obama Administration
America’s first Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist President, Barack Obama, can be credited for setting in motion the process which would totally upend everything we once knew about the science of Christmas warfare. As is well known, Obama took kinetic war on Christmas to its most extreme form, beginning with the outright ban on the phrase “Merry Christmas” in public sphere and from that point continuing with measures of increasing tempo and intensity, from drone and conventional fixed-wing airstrikes against nativity scenes to a targeted assassination campaign against shopping mall Santa Clauses. It is believed that the final straw was when the administration replaced the Santas with drag queens who handed out copies of The Communist Manifesto or Rules for Radicals to children. With such harsh policies on Christmas, a backlash was inevitable.
And eventually that backlash came in the form of Donald J. Trump, the president who succeeded Obama in 2017, in part due to
our generous help the help of patriotic hackers which theoretically could be located on the territory of the Russian Federation. Trump’s first act as president was to sign an executive order lifting the hated ban on the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Shortly thereafter, he ended the air campaign against nativity scenes and other Christmas infrastructure such as public Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and Santa villages. Candy canes became fully legalized once more.
This reversal was welcomed by many, but in conjunction with the new conditions mentioned in the previous section, it has led to a new battlespace in which the lines are no longer clear, both in time and space. As such, this creates certain limitations, but also certain opportunities for Christmas and Counter-Christmas warfare, if only a commander has the imagination to embrace and exploit them.
Whereas in the past War on Christmas traditionally entailed engaging in open kinetic Christmas warfare from just before the start of business hours on Black Friday, now it can be waged not only before Black Friday and indeed, before Thanksgiving, without incurring backlash in the form of kinetic warfare. This is made possible by engaging in what has been called alternatively Hybrid War on Christmas, Non-Linear War on Christmas, Special War on Christmas, or most accurately- Full Spectrum Warfare on Christmas. Rather than going directly from a state of peace into a state of War on Christmas in open kinetic operations, the Hybrid War on Christmas commander may wage operations below the threshold of conventional War on Christmas within a spectrum of different Christmas battlespaces, for example political, economic, or informational. There is even the option to engage in limited kinetic warfare in conjunction with the other three battlespaces so as to create plausible deniability and thus avoid the appearance of being an aggressor. Whatever the case, the Hybrid War on Christmas practitioner always holds the initiative, is always able to determine when to escalate or deescalate, and it is this flexibility that gives a hybrid Christmas warfighting force far more maneuverability and flexibility to respond to the strategic or tactical situation as it demands.
Balancing the Forces
Unfortunately, Russia has been slow to adopt this form of 4th Generation War on Christmas, if only because our own Christmas holiday does not coincide with the calendar in most NATO countries, most notably the United States. Besides this, it is not as emphasized as New Year’s. This has allowed the US and its NATO allies to wage hybrid Christmas Warfare against Russia, threatening our vital interests. Thus, it is necessary for our Armed Forces to keep pace with the times. This means not only creating a new branch dedicated solely to Christmas and Counter-Christmas warfare, but also ensuring that this force can counter Western hybrid methods with hybrid methods of our own. By maximizing our usage of this new doctrine and taking full advantage of the flexibility it provides, our country can offset the massive numerical and economic advantages (e.g. production of candy canes -V.V.G.) the West has over us in the Christmas sphere.
In this case, creativity and ingenuity are the keys to victory. For example, our Grandfathers Frost can dress in the traditional Western Santa Claus uniforms, allowing them to easily infiltrate shopping malls throughout the US without suspicion. When they have achieved relative superiority, they may go into action against holiday displays, gingerbread houses, and other Christmas infrastructure, i.e. initiate kinetic warfare, while officially our nation remains at peace with Christmas. Rather than acknowledge their identity as Grandfathers Frost, we can use our information warfare infrastructure to convince others that these are simply local, Western Santa Clauses who are fed up with the holiday season and demanding their own rights. In another, more extreme scenario, we might consider launching Iskander or Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in the North Pole. Due to the lack of media and information coming from the region, it would be fairly easy to attribute blame for the attack on Santa Claus’ Workshop on a third party, such as Ukraine, the United States, or a local extremist group such as the Elvish State of Greenland and the North Pole (known by the Elvish acronym Elsgan), or Reindeer Sektor.* As Russia would officially deny all involvement, observers will not be able to blame Russia with absolute certainty, and thus be unable to initiate kinetic Christmas operations without escalating first and appearing to be the aggressor.
We ignore the danger of Hybrid or Non-linear War on Christmas at our own nation’s peril. Already the West has been waging it against us, taking advantage of our unconventional calendar and our lack of a commercial society during the Soviet-era. For this reason, we must not only adopt these forms of Christmas warfare, but we must in fact develop them and revolutionize them until we have developed our own doctrine for hybrid Christmas warfare which allows us to seize the initiative from our future opponents and achieve our winter holiday goals without provoking a situation in which we are forced to fight Christmas at a disadvantage in quantity and quality. In short, this hybrid, full spectrum War on Christmas doctrine must become the Christmas warfare doctrine of the Russian Armed Forces, and in particular, the newly created Christmas Forces.
Toward this end, I close by wishing my staff and all our officers and servicemen very happy holidays.
*The Elvish State of Greenland and the North Pole (Elsgan), and Reindeer Sektor are extremist organizations and illegal in the territory of the Russian Federation.