If you are a reasonably well-informed person (which you obviously are, since you read Commonplace Fun Facts), you know that the U.S. government has plans for just about everything. These contingencies range from the plan for making sure you pay your taxes after a nuclear war to NORAD’s annual public service of tracking the location of Santa Claus.
As helpful as all of that is, it sure would be nice if someone would try to think through how we would respond to the Zombie Apocalypse. That’s just asking too much, though, isn’t it?
Thankfully, Uncle Sam once again comes to the rescue with CONPLAN 8888-11. This handy document spells out how the U.S. military will respond to save the nation from meeting its end at the hand of zombies.
There is much to be said about this curious piece of military planning. One thing that immediately jumps out at us is its brevity. We’re talking about the federal government, after all. This is the organization that takes 26 pages to detail its recipe for brownies and 35 pages to cover the details for two days of presidential campaign stops. Considering that CONPLAN 8888-11 is our last-ditch effort to ensure the survival of the human race, it is shocking to discover that it fills a paltry 31 pages.
Of course, you might find something else even more shocking than the brevity of the plan: the fact that it exists in the first place. Does the U.S. government seriously believe a zombie incursion is on the horizon? We know zombie chickens are a real thing. We also know zombies fill a critical piece of Vermin Supreme’s presidential platform. Does that mean the next global pandemic might very well be World War Z?
If it happens, we do have CONPLAN 8888-11, entitled “Counter-Zombie Dominance”. (View CONPLAN 8888-11 here). No, we’re not making this up — it is an official document of the U.S. government.
Well, it is official-ish, anyway.
CONPLAN 8888-11 is the product of junior military officers undergoing training through the Department of Defense’s Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES). The officers were given a “completely fictitious scenario” and tasked to develop a full-blown contingency plan to deal with it. Although the fact pattern triggering the crisis was intentionally unrealistic, the plan that was developed employed real-world conditions, resources, and anticipated responses.
Of course, if the government knew that the zombies were about to take over, what better way to avoid creating panic than to make plans while telling everyone that it was “just an exercise”?
Laying cynicism aside, let’s take a look at how the plan anticipates protecting you and your loved ones from being consumed by the brain-eating undead or turning into one of them.
We can tell that the authors of the plan adequately understand the risks involved. Section 5(a) sagely concludes, “Zombies are horribly dangerous to all human life, and zombie infections have the potential to seriously undermine national security and economic activities that sustain our way of life. Therefore, having a population that is not composed of zombies or at risk from their malign influence is vital to U.S. and Allied national interests.” With this, we heartily concur. The document is less than clear, however, whether this premise would extend to a plan for dealing with Justin Bieber fans.
Having established that zombies are less than ideal for a healthy economy, CONPLAN 8888-11 sets out to articulate the different types of zombies for which we should be on the lookout. There are eight classifications of the undead, identified as follows:
- PZ (Pathogenic Zombie) — PZs are created by a pathogen such as a virus or bacteria that has naturally mutated and threatened humanity. Fortunately, we can dismiss this possibility. What’s the likelihood that a previously unknown virus is going to spring up out of nowhere, spread around the world in record time, and totally disrupt our way of life?
- RZ (Radiation Zombies) — RZs are created by extreme exposure to electromagnetic or particle radiation. Presumably, this would occur only through non-natural events. Even so, it’s a good idea to make regular use of sunscreen a habit.
- EMZ (Evil Magic Zombies) — EMZs come about as the result of evil occult force. Curiously, there is no counterpart for GMZs (Good Magic Zombies), who presumably would be created by the Good Witch of the North. These could be the most difficult to deal with since our scientific efforts sadly do not emphasize Defense Against the Dark Arts. The plan states that chaplains may have to be used to exorcise this particular threat.
- SZ (Space Zombies) — SZs, sadly, do not live in space and zoom around in rocket ships. This refers to a non-terrestrial source of the zombie mutation, such as a comet. We envision these creatures to resemble the guy in the Little Babies Ice Cream commercials.
- WZ (Weaponized Zombies) — WZs are basically WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). They are developed by hostile forces to use against us in combat — much like the sycophantic followers of the bullies who used to torment us in junior high school.
- SIZ (Symbiant-Induced Zombies) — SIZs lose the will to live by taking on a parasitic life form that takes over the body. We see this in nature in the form of zombie ants and mind-controlled spiders.
- VZ (Vegetarian Zombies) — VZs, as you might surmise, do not feast on human flesh the way your run-of-the-mill zombie does. Instead, they consume plant life and lots of it. The fact that they do not eat humans does not minimize their danger to humanity, due to the potential that they might consume all of the planet’s crops and vegetation.
- CZ (Chicken Zombies) — CZs are the only zombies currently known to exist. They are improperly euthanized chickens who remain alive and walk around in a zombie trance until they succumb to organ failure. CONPLAN 8888-11 states, “CZ’s are simply terrifying to behold” but “appear to be no direct threat to humans.” The same thing can be said about Michael Moore.
At this point in the plan, the international lawyers get into the game. They observe that zombies do not appear to be subject to US and international law, the United Nations Charter, international treaties, Rules of Engagement, etc. We’re not entirely sure the Supreme Court would agree with this assessment — particularly if a majority of the justices have been turned into zombies, themselves. We will probably have to cross that bridge if we come to it.
The document analyzes the effects of environmental conditions on the various types of zombies. PZs, for example, would possibly not react well to ultraviolet light and would therefore be most active at night and on cloudy days. EMZs, SZ, VZs, and WZs would likely not be affected by weather conditions short of tornados, floods, tsunamis, and wildfires. Those of us who are forced to endure the heat and humidity of Kansas City summers hold out hope that not even mindless zombies will voluntarily migrate to this neck of the woods.
Throughout the emergency of zombie infiltration, individual healthy humans (IHH) will be urged to shelter in place and avoid drinking groundwater to minimize contact with airborne and waterborne pathogens. CONPLAN 8888-11 is oddly silent on the need to wear masks, practice social distancing, and submit to weekly nasal swab tests.
The preservation of humanity and our way of life depends upon six phases of operations:
Phase 0 — Shape the Environment
If you need any further proof that CONPLAN 8888-11 is the product of the federal government, you need look no further than the fact that the first of the six phases is numbered as Zero instead of One. Phase 0 is triggered upon initial reports of the outbreak of a zombie incursion. Military and civilian agencies are to immediately begin looking for disease and contagion factors. Responders are to receive ramped-up HAZMAT training.
Phase 1 — Deterrence
The second phase (irritatingly called Phase 1) is triggered when the US Strategic Command issues a WARNORD (Warning Order). The focus at this time shifts to deterrence. Distressingly, the plan concludes, “Zombies cannot be deterred.” Rather than simply throw in the towel, however, we will focus our attention on third parties who might try to take advantage of the crisis to attack the United States’ interests. We will send strong messages to terrorist groups, hostile foreign nations, and unethical bioresearch companies that we will not tolerate any aiding and abetting zombies.
Phase 2 — Seize the Initiative
The next step is to activate all active and reserve military and institute continuity of operations plans. The emphasis here will be to safeguard civilian government and infrastructure. Congress would be relocated to emergency locations (unfortunately, the secret underground bunker beneath the Greenbrier Hotel is no longer a secret). The military will deploy all ground, air, and naval command and control nodes, with plans to remain deployed for a minimum of 35 days. This, naturally, will involve a massive mobilization of the armed forces, so there are also plans to notify potentially hostile nations, so they don’t mistake our mobilization as a precursor to a first-strike attack against them. Civilian defense zones will be fortified, and any quarantine zones will be strictly enforced.
Phase 3 — Dominance
In the Dominance Phase, the military really comes into its own. This is what it trains for and excels. The plan says that the military response must be massive, swift, and should completely eradicate the zombie threat. Lest there be any doubt about what this means, the plan emphasizes to “shoot them in the brain.” The nature of the zombie threat is that just one survivor could start the whole mess all over again. To that end, the plan concludes that the use of nuclear weapons may be the best way of dealing with large hoards of zombies. The military will assist with blockading civilian centers while uninfected humans are relocated to more remote areas. We really hope they get that part taken care of before unleashing the nuclear option.
Phase 4 — Stabilization
No earlier than 40 days after the start of Phase 3, efforts will look for opportunities to stabilize matters. The military will add reconnaissance to its duties, attempting to identify the extent of surviving zombies and any previously undiscovered healthy human holdouts. Additionally, they will engage in surveys to evaluate the status of electricity, water, and sewage. The plan does not mention prioritizing the restoration of WiFi, but we assume that is clearly understood. Additionally, epidemiologists will attempt to determine whether a lingering threat exists through contamination of the air or water.
Phase 5 — Normalization
This is the point at which the threat has been eradicated, and the military can focus its attention on the restoration of civilian authority. Commercial and civil infrastructure is to be repaired, with the restoration of functioning civil services being a priority. It is unclear whether this is the point at which the IRS institutes its plan to resume collection of taxes, or if it takes priority before the military is called in.
Once this is all over, we can breathe a big sigh of relief and know that we have nothing further to fear, aside from the inevitable requirement to have regular booster shots of the anti-zombie vaccine.
There are a few distressing things in CONPLAN 8888-11 that are easy to miss in the fine print. It notes that those who are not affected by the zombie contamination will be sorely tempted to try to save friends and family who did not fare so fortunate. The plan states that such individuals must not be allowed to go back for the infected, and if anyone attempts to do so, they must be left behind and treated as expendable.
The plan also notes that for all our power and expertise in fighting ground wars, this particular conflict will likely be resolved from the air. It notes that most ground-based command and control nodes are ill-prepared to fend off a zombie outbreak. One priority for the personnel of such facilities will be to stockpile lumber and to get quick training in welding techniques to harden the facility against the oncoming storm.
Additionally, although the plan asserts that the best response will come from the air, it also notes that airborne facilities are unlikely to survive for more than a week. Although planes can refuel in midair, the airfields that support the fuel tankers will likely be quickly overrun by the brain-eating undead.
Lastly, the plan concedes the distressing void of serious scholarship on zombies. It states that in light of the absence of significant useful data, we may need to look to popular media for tips about how to destroy the walking dead.
In other words, despite all its planning, the government may be placing the fate of humanity with Hollywood.