Late last week, the Pentagon released to the public, CONPLAN 8888-11: Counter-Zombie Dominance Operations, Basic Plan. It highlights US military response to a hypothetical zombie uprising on American soil or abroad. According to US Strategic Command Media Relations Officer Lieutenant Colonel Stephanie Bounds, the document was the result of a training exercise meant for officers to build an operations plan for an absurd situation. The use of zombies as an antagonist allowed for out-of-the-box and creative thinking, rather than strict, by-the-book planning. She was very quick to stress that the document is not an official plan for use in any anti-undead action, but was rather just the result of some creative, unknown officers brainstorming a unique response to an apocalyptic scenario.
Regardless of its origin, CONPLAN 8888 provides a stunning look into the minds that protect this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. As fantastic as it may be, its measures for zombie defense could easily be applied to other, more realistic threats like viral pandemics or even cyber warfare. It also give a frightening look into what potential responses could be used during times of crisis that lead to times of desperation. Here are ten surprising things you may not know about what could be our nation’s zombie response. Set us at ZOMBIECON 1.
1. Zombies Seem to Present the Biggest Hypothetical Threat to the Country
There are myriad outlandish antagonists that could potentially threaten the sovereignty of the United States; Space aliens, Godzilla, rogue comets and North Korea just to name a few. Apparently US Strategic Command doesn’t feel these are anywhere near the caliber of threat that zombies pose. According to LTC Bounds, Strategic Command doesn’t have any plans in place, hypothetical or otherwise, to deal with Kaiju or little green men. Comets and aliens will have to depend on the combined efforts of Ben Affleck and Will Smith. North Korea will of course implode when it makes the mistake of recruiting Alec Baldwin.
2. Max…Brooks….Savior of the Universe
CONPLAN 8888 states that “the more robust a science fiction scenario related to zombies is, the more useful it is for planning purposes – regardless of how outlandish it might be.” Perhaps that’s why the reference list includes not only secret documents, but also the trio of Max Brooks zombie-related books. Since there have been no reported cases of zombieism (aside from Chicken Zombies), fiction will be the only resource material in abundance. That being said, the military would be well served by adding The Walking Dead to its library, strictly so they can do the exact opposite of what Rick does. Then again, I doubt any soldier would be hobbling around yelling “CARL!!” for hours at a time.
3. The Five D’s of
It seems that the defense plan for a zombie outbreak is strikingly similar to the approach that would be used by military Cyber Command to counteract an attack via the Interwebz. The basic principle of zombie and hacker defense are the five D’s: Denial, Deception, Disruption, Degradation and Destruction, and unlike the five D’s of dodgeball, they didn’t have to repeat one.
In reality, they are very similar. Computer viruses, particularly sophisticated ones propagate just like virus-ridden zombies. They both travel fast, prey on the unprepared, and can spiral out of control…kind of like herpes.
4. The Power of Christ (and Buddha, Zeus, Allah and Every Other Recognized Deity) Compels Them!
Of the eight classification of zombies mentioned in CONPLAN 8888, the one most likely to be immune to the firepower of our combined armed forces are what are referred to as “Evil Magic Zombies”, or EMZs. These paranormal created undead could very well be immune to conventional weaponry. Thankfully, the US government has the support of not one but many gods in its fight against the spawn of evil.
According to CONPLAN 8888, in the case of an invasion by EMZs, the Chaplain Corps might be called into battle, as likely they will be the only defense against the unholy. This could potentially create a bit of a moral and ethical dilemma, as the Geneva Convention lists chaplains as non-combatants. Thankfully, in ‘Murica, zombies aren’t covered by Geneva, making the chaplain corps legally allowed and duty bound to start lobbing Holy Hand Grenades towards the walking undead.
5. Run to the Hills (but Not Your Local Military Base)
Zombie movies galore have shown us what happens when you try to make your way to a military installation during an outbreak of brain eaters. Most of the time bands of survivors are decimated by the time they arrive, only to find that the military suffered the same fate. On the off chance they make it to an operational fort, they will likely be conscripted into service; that is, the men serving the military and the women servicing the men a la 28 Days Later.
If any advice can be taken away from CONPLAN 8888 for civilians, it’s to avoid military bases. Of all of the current American military outposts, only Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska is a facility hardened enough to protect and support “personnel responsible for commanding and controlling a coordinated combat action against zombie forces.” While other hardened bases exist, the document states that while they could likely survive for a short period of time, they would likely fall before the undead menace could be defeated. I guess I’m back to my plan of hiding out in a Dick’s Sporting Goods.
6. Would We Possibly Defend the Zombies?
One of the constraints established in CONPLAN 8888 is that United States Strategic Command forces must “Remain postured to deter adversaries from attacking the U.S. or its allies with WMD.” This policy could undermine any global efforts to halt the zombie advance.
For example, say a scenario similar to 28 Days Later takes place, with the United Kingdom infected with rage zombies. Russia, in an effort to sterilize the country, plans to nuke the site from orbit as it’s the only way to be sure. According to this constraint, we would be obligated to deter Russia from attacking. Sure, it would begin with words and sanctions, but at what point would military force be an option, and at what point would Russia’s plan be acceptable? The plan doesn’t specifically document what limits are in place for the US when it comes to preventing a foreign power from taking the matter in their own hands, nor does it identify a point of no return where an attack on an ally would be acceptable. Likely such thoughts, as terrifying as they are, would be a much more closely guarded secret, as the political implications could be grave.
7. Zombie Time Is the Perfect Time to Steal Nukes
One of the other major concerns is that hostile foreign entities would take advantage of any destabilization to America’s infrastructure, and attempt to hijack weapons of mass destruction. Seeing as how CONPLAN 8888 does open the potential for the release of nuclear weapons, there would be an increased likelihood that these weapons could get in the wrong hands. Fortunately, in cases of zombie uprising, the greatest threat to American interests would also be the greatest threat to foreign interests.
For the most part, asking someone to try to steal a really big missile would require them to have an awfully big death wish. An Al Qaeda team, when faced down by a squad of Marines, would likely turn tail and run or otherwise become target practice. Take that same Al Qaeda team, and stick about a thousand zombies between them and a nuke, and those who could keep their bowels under control would likely become snackatizers within seconds. Regardless, CONPLAN 8888 orders in a zombie uprising specifically dictate that Strategic Command must maintain all current missions during the undead conflict, particularly the securing of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Sorry guys, I’d have a hell of a time turning my key if a bloodthirsty six year old were gnawing on my ankle.
8. The Government Does Not Have Enough Twinkies, or Any Other Supplies Necessary to Withstand Zombieland
One of the key aspects of a long term anti-zombie campaign is going to be provisions. Sadly, according to CONPLAN 8888, provisions would be our greatest weakness. The document states that US Strategic Command forces don’t have on hand enough supplies to outlast a zombie siege as short as thirty days. This simple shortcoming could literally affect the continuation of the human race as we know it.
The document assumes that most zombies, aside from the evil magic variety, would still be limited to the simple laws of biology in that, they would likely cease to function after about thirty to forty days without nourishment. In the best case scenario, that would leave Strategic Command forces running out of provisions days before the undead starved to death…again. The military would be a few days late, and a lot of hamburgers short.
To make matters worse, it’s likely that the military wouldn’t last the initial thirty days. CONPLAN 8888 specifically states that “USSTRATCOM (United States Strategic Command) has no ground combat forces capable of repelling a zombie assault.” While this is a completely fictional scenario, it does give pause to wonder, if there were a full scale invasion of the country, would the military be able to repel it successfully? Granted, the single advantage zombies have is their ability for what the military refers to as recruitment and retention, giving them far greater numbers in a short period of time, but how much of an opposing real world force would it take to overwhelm our current, exhausted fighting force? Would the American people augment the military, Wolverines-style, or would we just be crying out to the world, “Avenge us!”
9. Once Bitten, Twice Shot
It’s safe to say that the bitten will not be looked upon too favorably by the military. One of the critical requirements necessary for the highest possibility of success is CR #1 – Emergency Triage/Quarantine Protocols. This makes sense, as zombieism is generally transmitted person to person.
CONPLAN 8888 states that it is critical that “Casualties contaminated by zombie sources must not be allowed to interact with healthy humans. Affected humans must be quarantined and subsequently eradicated.” This is a particularly harsh stance, as the document labels distinct differences between humans (whether infected or clean) and zombies, with the latter not afforded any rights in regards to the Law of Armed Combat and the Geneva Convention.
This position to effectively kill anyone who presents any injury potentially caused by a zombie could insight more panic than it contains. Those bitten will be more inclined to hide the scope of their injuries, and depending on the amount of time necessary for their conversion, could theoretically become vectors for zombieism transmission, perhaps in designated safe spaces. The amount of time necessary to effectively strip search each survivor in search of injuries would be daunting, leading me to wonder if a shoot first/ask questions later approach would be followed rather than risk further contamination.
10. The First Casualty: Civil Rights
It would require quick, decisive decision making for the country as we know it to survive. According to the terms of CONPLAN 8888, until martial law is declared, counter zombie operations would be under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. Once martial law is declared though, it’s likely that the American way would become one of the first things we lose.
The plan dictates that the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Commander of Strategic Command can issue six different types of orders regarding zombie uprisings, including alert orders, deployment orders, operational orders and others.
One category that stands out is called a TERMORD, which does not seem to have a definition available online. A media relations worker at the Pentagon seemed to believe TERMORD was the acronym for “termination order”, but could not confirm it. When asked, LTC Bounds did not have a definition, stating that she had never heard the term before. Other contacts seem to believe that it is indeed a termination order, which in the context of a zombie outbreak, could be used to “legally” end the lives of humans who were a threat to the operation. This idea could have some rather terrifying connotations.
Is this something limited to “putting down” infected before they have the chance to turn, or could the military proactively remove zombie supply chains, specifically human population centers where zombie reproduction could be uncontrollable? Elsewhere, the document states that nuclear weapons could be used on American soil to prevent the spread off the threat. Does this mean entire cities could be nuked for containment purposes, potentially without the evacuation of perfectly healthy humans?
While CONPLAN 8888 is a completely hypothetical operation, there is a real world fear it brings to light. It seems unlikely that a new acronym, TERMORD, would be invented for such an exercise. The idea that such an order type exists in the present brings to mind two major questions. Have termination orders been issued before, and what are the criteria for ordering the death of a non-combatant? There are striking similarities to Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s Project Insight, and the concept of these orders. Hail Hydra?
Previously By Jason Helton