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The secret Pentagon plan to stop the zombie apocalypse

The US military has always been the one place in government with a plan, forever in preparation mode and ready to yank a blueprint off the shelf for almost any contingency. Need a response for a Russian nuclear missile launch? Check. Have to rescue a US ambassador kidnapped by drug lords? Got that covered. How about a detailed strategy for surviving a zombie apocalypse? As it turns out, check.

Incredibly, the Defence Department has a response if zombies attacked and the armed forces had to eradicate flesh-eating walkers in order to "preserve the sanctity of human life" among all the "non-zombie humans".

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 fulfils fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for US 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."

CONOP 8888, otherwise known as "Counter-Zombie Dominance" and dated April 30, 2011, is no laughing matter, and yet of course it is. As its authors note in the document's "disclaimer section", "this plan was not actually designed as a joke".

Navy Captain Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command, acknowledged the document exists on a "secure Internet site" but took pains to explain that the zombie survival guide is only a creative endeavour for training purposes. "The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario," she said. "This document is not a US Strategic Command plan."

Under "Zombie Threat Summary", the plan highlights the different kinds of zombie adversaries one might find in such an attack. They include not only vegetarian zombies ("zombie life forms originating from any cause but pose no direct threat to humans because they only eat plant life"); evil magic zombies ("EMZs are zombie life forms created via some form of occult experimentation in what might otherwise be referred to as 'evil magic'"); and also chicken zombies.

"Although it sounds ridiculous, this is actually the only proven class of zombie that actually exists," the plan states. So-called CZs occur when old hens that can no longer lay eggs are euthanised by farmers with carbon monoxide, buried and then claw their way back to the surface. "CZs are simply terrifying to behold and are likely only to make people become vegetarians in protest to animal cruelty," CONOP 8888 notes.

The catalogue of the walking dead also includes zombies that come from outer space; those deliberately created by Frankensteinian bio-engineers; and humans who have been invaded by a pathogen that turns them into zombies.

The plan reviews, extensively, the various phases of saving the world from zombie rule and reads not unlike the phases of a counterinsurgency campaign: from "shape" to "deter" to "seize initiative" to "dominate" to "stabilise" and, in the final, confidence-building phase, "restore civil authority".

Finally, "[a]s directed by POTUS and SECDEF," using military-ese for the president of the United States and the defence secretary, "provide support to federal, state and tribal agencies' efforts to restore basic services in zombie-related disaster areas".

If the military's mantra is to "be prepared", then writing a zombie survival guide - even if it is just for an imaginative exercise - makes sense. "I hope we've invested a similar level of intellectual rigour against dragon egg hatching contingencies," one defence official quipped.


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