You read the headline right, The Pentagon has created a plan for what to do in the zombie apocalypse. We'll leave it up to you whether you now feel safer, or a whole lot less safe.
Not surprisingly, this isn't something the US military establishment is keen to talk about, but Foreign Policy Magazine dug up the document, which helpfully tells us, "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, as the document is known, is dated April 30, 2011, not 29 days earlier (or 28 days later for that matter). The authors are keen to assure us the document is not a joke, but nor is it entirely serious, saying, “The hyperbole involved in writing a 'zombie survival plan' actually provided a very useful and effective training tool.”
"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 authors wrote, adding: "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."
It's encouraging that the people capable of creating a real apocalypse haven't made the grave mistake of moving from believing in WMD to Zombies of Mass Destruction. Sadly, we think they may be misjudging just what people will believe.
The plan involves various levels of threat, including one where zombie-ism turns out to be highly transmissible, with low human immunity. Disappointingly, it does not include any suggestions on how to tackle Zombie Economics, which seems a slightly more realistic threat. It does however, warn of “Chicken Zombies”, which are described as “the only proven class of zombies that actually exists” when aged hens are incompletely euthanized and dig their way out of their graves.
Pentagon planners are rather more creative than Hollywood scriptwriters, it seems, with the the subtypes of zombies they are prepared for including vegetarians, “zombie life forms originating from any cause but pose no direct threat to humans because they only eat plant life”. Symbiant-Induced Zombies by are also on the list, as are evil magic zombies, as opposed presumably to zombies produced through good magic and zombies from space.
Foreign Policy quotes one defense official joking “I hope we've invested a similar level of rigor against dragon egg hatching contingencies.”
Unfortunately, while the world's most powerful military is free to produce plans against vampires, werewolves or Cthulu there is one thing against which we are very much on our own. Just last week the US House of Representatives passed an amendment that explicitly bars the Department of Defense from any actions to prepare for the effects of Anthropogenic Global Warming, be they conflicts over increasingly rare water resources or flooding of low lying military bases.