Zombie Apocalypse? The Pentagon Has A Plan

from the the-best-braaaaains dept

If you’re like me, you might be surprised to learn just where zombies turn up. For instance, an undead king-o-pop might show up in a video game. Or in a humor-driven warning from the Center for Disease Control. Or, as it turns out, amongst contingency plans by the Pentagon.

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888’s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

Ah, the undead sure do create cause for such strange bedfellows. It’s a little bit heartwarming that the Pentagon would see fit to team up with our more-human adversaries against the zombie horde, isn’t it? Imagine: the Taliban and the American military hand in hand, standing tall and steadfast against wave after wave of the undead. It’s equal parts poetic and idealistic.

Now, lest anyone take this too seriously, like the CDC’s warning, the Pentagon would like to stress that they don’t actually think that this zombie apocalypse is, you know, going to happen.

Military planners assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska during 2009 and 2010 looked for a creative way to devise a planning document to protect citizens in the event of an attack of any kind. The officers used zombies as their muse. “Planners … realized that training examples for plans must accommodate the political fallout that occurs if the general public mistakenly believes that a fictional training scenario is actually a real plan,” the authors wrote, adding: “Rather than risk such an outcome by teaching our augmentees using the fictional ‘Tunisia’ or ‘Nigeria’ scenarios used at [Joint Combined Warfighting School], we elected to use a completely-impossible scenario that could never be mistaken for a real plan.”

In other words, rather than risk the paranoid hysteria that would revolve around a false plan to combat a real-life adversary, they made one up. It’s actually humanizing to see a little humorous creativity coming from our men and women in uniform. And it appears the creators of the plan really did let their imagination fly. They designed methods to combat vegetarian zombies (yay!), evil magic zombies (sounds ominous), and chicken zombies (run, you stupid bastards!), outer space zombies (genre crossovers are so tired), bio-engineered zombies (calling Umbrella Corp.), and a pathogen-based zombie outbreak. Not all the military brass was impressed with the effort, it seems.

“I hope we’ve invested a similar level of intellectual rigor against dragon egg hatching contingencies,” one defense official quipped.

Oh, you silly defense guy, untwist your shorts. Everyone knows there haven’t been dragons in these parts in years.

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Comments on “Zombie Apocalypse? The Pentagon Has A Plan”

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fogbugzd (profile) says:

I used to work in city government. We had a history of being hit by tornadoes, and we took disaster planning and disaster drills very seriously. Most of the disaster drills involved tornadoes. We got hit with a couple of real disasters that were not tornadoes when I was there. It turns out that the tornado drills had provided us with experience in any type of disaster, even if it wasn’t remotely related to what we had trained for.

The lesson I learned was that it was important to train for disasters, and it didn’t really matter what type of disaster you were planning for. Many skills, especially communications, will come into play in any disaster. We developed contacts with other agencies, we collected maps and information resources. My first year there we discovered we had a shortage of barricades for blocking streets. A few years later we discovered that even though we had bought barricades, they had been loaned to another city after that city had a disaster and we had not gotten the barricades back.

I think training or planning for zombies or space aliens or anything else is perfectly fine. In any type of disaster there are going to be similar issues you have to think about — communications, evacuations, traffic and crowd control, emergency housing, distributing food and water, and medical community support. The important thing is to plan and train for disasters. The Zombie Apocalypse may sound frivolous, but it forces the participants to think and exercise their response skills. If it is a bit bizarre it is also going to force the participants to think a bit outside the box.

hij (profile) says:

Re: It is sad, really.

Not sure what you are complaining about. Are you saying that the people who are supposed to be prepared to create a plan and execute the plan in an emergency should not be training and should instead be sitting around doing nothing? Or, are you saying that we should not have these people around in the first place? With respect to the first question I personally think that it would be ridiculous to tell these people that they should not engage in this sort of training. The necessary skills do not magically appear in an emergency. The second question is a more difficult question which cannot be answered with the small amount of information presented here.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: It is sad, really.

I think what the zombie (if he’s deceased and talking…) is saying is that the pentagon should probably be spending their time and money making plans for things that are possible to happen.

I, however, disagree. Creating a zombie survival plan requires creativity and imagination. Both those traits are insanely useful in life or death situations that were not predicted.

The problem with an unpredictable cataclysm is that it’s inherently unpredictable (Even ones we do plan for could be different from our plans). The survival plan would have to be made up on the fly. The best way to do that is pull different parts from different survival plans and put them together. That requires creativity and imagination (and even a zombie survival plan or two).

Michael (profile) says:

Re: It is sad, really.

They are solving a real problem. A zombie apololypse parallels a lot of realistic possible emergencies.

Viral zombie attack – better have clean water and a way to clean water ready – hmm…need that in the event of a major flooding incident.

Zombies always seem to wreak havoc on public utilities, so there is probably preparation in there for power outages as well.

I get their point. They could have planned for a Chinese invasion and then had everyone looking at the plan asking how close we were to a Chinese invasion that we needed to plan for it. Instead, they took a good, general, completely inplausable situation and planned for it.

DCL says:

Re: Re: It is sad, really.

Oh I am sure they already have a plan for a Chinese invasion it is just highly classified and if it got out it would cause a lot of political strife on a international scale.

If you reread the article the point for using zombies is to get the critical and useful training done without causing a panic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It is sad, really.

I guess you can think of this exercise as the stone soup version of disaster planning.

It looks like the CDC has handed off the responsibility to their “Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response”. There’s beem some updates to their plan. They even have a online graphic “novella”…to get the word out on preparation.

But not so seriously, a zombie outbreak, or worse, a zombie pandemic does seems like a good example of a disaster where military-civilian coodination would be beneifical. I think we can all agree that this is the kind of disaster where any and all measures needs to be taken to mitigate the negative effects on the population!

This plan might even come in handy if a chryssalid shows up…

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: It is sad, really.

Except that this isn’t a scenario for providing shelter, pure water, etc. It is a plan for killing, ah… organisms which walk like people, and talk like people, who are living among us… and who pollute by merely existing. In other words, what the Nazis called “untermensch.” I don’t suppose the term “Libel of Blood Pogrom” means anything to you.


There is a reference to “vegetarian zombies.” Who, in real life, are likely to be vegetarians? Answer: certain groups of Indian-Americans. There have been recent Anti-Semitic episodes in the military, notable a hazing incident at the Air Force Academy, and forced attendance at Sour then Baptist religious ceremonies. Don’t treat it as a game. A common characteristic of zombies is that they have names like Masnick. I’d say, on available evidence, that a zombie is about one part Jew, one part Indian-American, one part Chinese, one part Mexican, and one part Secular Humanist. I think we’re all Zombies here.

The military recruits from the “dark corners of the land,” places like Alabama and Mississippi, where poverty has persisted for generations, places which have never really gotten over the mindset of slavery, and where the Ku Klux Klan is not just an abstraction. A great many recruits have someone, a father, or an uncle, or a grandfather, who… wore the sheet, thirty or forty or fifty years ago. It seems as though the editorial staff of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger is beginning to get the idea. Like William Faulkner or Harper Lee, they have the advantage of living close to the problem:

” …Mississippi’s consistently low educational rankings and that the quality of the brains might not be up to par for zombie food snobs…”

In other words, it is just another case of “the sinister Jew from San Francisco who is going to corrupt our children and make them into atheists and teach them to program computers.”

Therese Apel, “Pentagon has Zombie apocalypse plan, but does Miss.?,” Clarion-Ledger, May 15, 2014

Roberto Scalese, Inside the Secret Gummint Plan to Stop a Zombie Invasion, Boston Globe, May 15, 2014

Anonymous Coward says:

Make fun if you want...

But keep in mind. No matter how stupid or crazy something sounds it always good to have some sort of plan for it.


Because looking at this situation pragmatically, if enough disenfranchised humans with serious illness and nothing to lose does occur, then they may behave in ways the behave just like a zombie apocalypse. Basically moving around and intentionally infecting/killing people and some even getting their rocks off on getting into it all.

If you have ever seen how humans can develop cultist overtones then you know that when tensions are high anything can happen. This does not just have to be over political illness either… imagine the possible parallels this has with current day technology and a revolution occurring in the USA itself. This is literally a good way to plan for insurrection while the people laugh it all off as stupid and unworthy of any serious attention.

Always treat anything a government does as serious.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re:

No, no, no… If Wesker was in charge, there wouldn’t be a plan to defend against Zombies.

No, what’s more likely is Umbrella lobbied to make the existing plan ineffective, so they could study the outbreak. Umbrella may have also supplied a “cure”, at an exorbitant rate, which will be equally ineffective, if not the T-Virus itself.

Tim R says:


I think the greater utility of an exercise like this, both in its planning and execution, is highly underrated. One of the (many) non-political reasons we’ve had problems with terrorism in the past is that the opposition is like nothing we’re used to dealing with. No uniforms, no nations, different structurally than an opposing country’s army. Things like this force planners to think outside the box and be creative with solutions. Even if the need for those solutions never materialize, the ideas gleaned from a zombie-outbreak contingency can be used in many different response scenarios.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Dragon eggs

“I hope we’ve invested a similar level of intellectual rigor against dragon egg hatching contingencies,” one defense official quipped.

Somebody is more worried about appearances than reality.

Disaster planning is mostly just disaster planning. If using zombies as the disaster makes people think creatively, then great.

I’m fine with this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reminds me of a ‘study’ paid for by gun rights supporters, that rated the safest and most dangerous states in the event of a Zombie apocalypse.

The more gun ownership a state had, the larger it’s geographic area, and the fewer people that lived in each square miles, the more safe the state was rated.

And yes, the author of the study was dumb enough to cite it as a reason to buy more guns, in preparation for a possible zombie apocalypse.

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