The Pentagon has a Plan for World War Z

No. Seriously. I discuss the spiritual implications of our ridiculously fearful post-Christian culture over at the Register.

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  • wlinden

    Rather than relying on a summary of a citation to a citation, I navigated the link maze to the original story in FOREIGN POLICY about CONOP 8888.

    “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.”

    … and would not elicit a ton of protests from the Zombie Anti-Defamation League.

    It also engages the taxonomy of zombies…


    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 euthanized 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.

    • sez

      “Zombie Anti-Defamation League” – hilarious! Yes, I’m sure that’s the primary reason for WWZ planning. To be able to plan without offending anyone, anywhere.

  • MClark

    Well, John Ringo’s “Under a Graveyard Sky” posits the spread of a man-made virus that has an airborne pneumonia phase followed by a biting-spread rabies like phase, so the zombie apocalypse is only a matter of time. (Or his science is just a bunch of good ole fashioned SF handwavium.)

    The report also seems a little like a Friday afternoon training exercise, when even the instructor wants something a little out of the ordinary.

    Given the issue of evangelicals in the military, they may construe working with ‘weapons of the Spirit’ as pushing as many Catholics, Mormons, mainline protestants, and pagans into an evangelical denomination. Weapons of the Spirit really aren’t the military’s purview.

    I would wish they study major urban area evacuation, because I don’t think anybody really knows how to do it, cf New Orleans and Hurricane Rita or Houston and Hurricane Ike.

    • MClark

      Sorry, I mean New Orleans and Katrina or Houston and Hurricane Rita.

  • Archaeopteryx

    Mr. Shea, this alarmist hysteria is unworthy of you. The ‘plan’ you’re so contemptuous of is not a serious thing.

    If you are actually aware of this and are just using it to segue into your actual point, please use an actual example of what you’re talking about instead so people won’t just dismiss you as some Chicken-Little who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    • chezami

      Of *course* it’s not a serious thing. The point is that it’s a thing at all. We spending money on this silliness. Because we are a culture of fear.

      • Archaeopteryx

        I am unsure how ‘this was a training exercise in how to craft contingency plans’ means we live in a culture of fear unless you object to the very idea of contingency plans.

      • Pete the Greek

        No, it’s their job to come up with contingency plans. I don’t think you understand how that process works. To be honest, I think your reaction to this showcases more fear and misunderstanding than the actual plan does.

  • Pete the Greek

    Did you read the article you linked, Mark?

    • wlinden

      That wouldn’t have helped. It was the people who “sell beer and shampoo”, as someone says, giving their version of what somebody said somebody said. I had to follow a trail of links to get the the original story on FOREIGN POLICY, and set up a profile to stop FP from obliterating it with popups.

      • Pete the Greek

        I did a similar thing, but since I had Firebug installed in my browser, I was able to simply ‘turn off’ the HTML that was blocking my reading.

        I also found the study itself. You can read the whole thing here.

        In short, this was an unconventional tool used to teach primary disaster handling skills in a way that boosted retention of those skills.

        If you want to take it out of a military context, think of this: Let’s say you are trying to teach a class of medics certain principles (rather boring principles) about triage, mass casualties and natural disaster prep. You could stage a training plan based on, say, a large earthquake hitting a major metropolitan area.


        You could draw up a plan of GODZILLA ATTACKING THE CITY!!!

        The same principles come into play, but you now have a very engaging topic that holds interest and helps retain the learning.

        • wlinden

          Ah, many thanks.
          In another recent interview, New York’s Office of Emergency Management assured us that they would be ready if Godzilla did arrive.

          As a converse example, in of the Vorkosigan books, Miles relates that his tutor could only interest him in learning about economics by framing it as logistical problems.

  • Neihan

    Every time they practice or teach drafting contingency plans there are always sections of the populace which immediately starts taking that as a sign that whatever the plan involves is about to happen at any moment.

    So they switch to a topic no one who isn’t already crazy will take seriously and now they have people complaining that they’re fear mongers precisely because they tried to avoid giving people reason to fear.

    Sometimes a zombie contingency plan is just a method to teach a subject material in an interesting way without people immediately assuming that there’s a disaster looming.