May 19, 2014 I Tom Head

Who’s Afraid of the Zombie Apocalypse?

Three years ago, the U.S. Strategic Command published "Counter-Zombie Dominance" (CONPLAN 8888-11), a tongue-in-cheek planning guide for the zombie apocalypse. Media coverage of this document has been a little weird, as some science writers have described this as a serious plan despite the fact that it literally begins by describing itself as "a completely impossible scenario that could never be mistaken as a real plan":

"This plan was not actually designed as a joke. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, while training augmentees from a local training squadron about the [joint operation planning process], members of a [U.S. Strategic Command] component found out (by accident) that the hyperbole involved in writing a 'zombie survival plan' actually provided a very useful and effective training tool.

"Planners who attended JPME II at the Joint Combined Warfighting School also 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. Rather than risk such an outcome by teaching our augmentees using the fictional 'Tunisia' or 'Nigeria' scenarios used at [Joint and Combined Warfighting School], we elected to use a completely impossible scenario that could never be mistaken as a real plan."

But—disclaimers aside—this is an example of the United States' greatest military minds applying the military planning process to anti-zombie combat, so if you have any interest whatsoever in the zombie apocalypse genre (or want to understand the joint operation planning process), you know you want to read it.

As for the science behind the zombie apocalypse...well, it's a little iffy. As AsapSCIENCE explains:

In addition to the "virus zombie" scenario described in the video, it's also hypothetically possible—though, in our current ecosystem, biologically unlikely—for a sufficiently sophisticated parasite to take over our brains, in much the same way parasitic wasps take over the brains of roaches and caterpillars. But neither of these scenarios would actually bring a dead person back to life.

Can you think of a zombie apocalypse scenario that would be plausible? And how would you improve on CONPLAN 8888-11's zombie-fighting strategy? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Tom Head

Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

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