When I was embedded with U.S. troops in Kandahar in 2010, we spent a lot of time theorizing about how to fight the inevitable zombie apocalypse. It turns out these troops aren’t the only ones in DOD planning it.
Foreign Policy magazine obtained a secret Pentagon document, dated April 2011 and called CONOP 8888, which outlines a strategy to fight flesh-eating zombies in order to “preserve the sanctity of human life” and protect "non-zombie humans." The document is called “Counter-Zombie Dominance” and contains this disclaimer: "This plan was not actually designed as a joke."
The document originated in U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska, says FP. It was reportedly written in 2009 and 2010. The planners aimed to find ways to “protect citizens in the event of an attack of any kind” and used zombies as “their muse,” reports FP.
“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 document reads. “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 an email to FP, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command, acknowledged that the document was authentic, but said that it was simply a training tool.
“This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan,” she said.
This isn’t the first time, however, that federal government has used zombies as a training tool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire website that outlines how to prepare for a zombie attack.
“If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” CDC director Ali Khan says on the site – which also acknowledges that “what first began as a tongue-in-cheek campaign to engage new audiences with preparedness messages has proven to be a very effective platform.”
DOD’s zombie plan is much more thorough. It outlines the different kinds of zombies that can attack - zombies from outer space, zombie infected by a pathogen, and vegetarian zombies, among others. It also outlines how to destroy zombie holdouts as the zombie war comes to an end.
The document is a fun read simply because it exposes how DOD actually plans for contingencies. The Pentagon’s job is to be prepared for anything, even the most unlikely of events, like an invasion by Canada or a zombie apocalypse.
It also shows that the normally straight-laced Pentagon has a sense of humor.
“We figured that an entry like this would not only be instructive, but possibly entertaining for personnel deployed away from their families supporting military ops abroad,” the document says. “If this plans helps illustrate how [joint operation training processes] works and brings a smile or a brief laugh in the process, so much the better.”
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