In a world brimming with unforeseen challenges, being prepared for the unknown is essential. The military thinks so too. But even so, does the military plan for every scenario, even seemingly fictitious ones? An intriguing document, CONPLAN 8888, available on the U.S. Strategic Command’s website, piques the interest of those interested in contemplating unforeseen threats. The document is not your typical governmental plan, in that it explores a strategy to counter a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. Though perhaps on the more fantastical side of preparedness, the document reveals serious insights into how defense strategies are conceptualized. It also subtly underscores the importance of readiness against unanticipated threats.

DISCLAIMER: Although fictitious, this article contains videos and images that viewers may find disturbing.

What Is CONPLAN 8888?

While reviewing Concept of Operations Plan (CONPLAN) 8888, a series of notable points emerge. The narrative begins by setting the stage for a fictitious zombie apocalypse, painting various scenarios of zombie-human interactions. The document extensively covers the operational concepts, tasks, and coordinating instructions to tackle such an improbable menace. It melds humor with serious undertones of strategizing against unforeseen threats, making it an intriguing read for anyone vested in emergency preparedness.

Several zombie variants are discussed in CONPLAN 8888, and although they are fictitious in nature, it could be argued that there are real-world parallels. Pathogen bearing zombies will definitely resonate with humanities recent collective experience with pandemics, and irradiated zombies with strike a chord with those dealing with disaster aftermath in places like Chernobyl or Fukushima. However, if you thought the only types of zombies that will emerge will be the “fast” or “slow” types, you would be mistaken. CONPLAN 8888 is so thorough, it identifies numerous zombie threats and, what humanity might be up against.

AI generated photo of generals planning.

Above: AI depiction of military generals planning how to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Zombie Threat Summary

The following zombie threats are taken directly from CONPLAN 8888:

  • Pathogenic Zombies (PZ): PZ's are zombie life forms created after an organism is infected by a virus or bacteria or some other form of contagion.

AI generated photo of a pathogenic zombie.

Above: AI generated depiction of a pathogenic zombie.

  • Radiation Zombies (RZ): RZ's are zombie life forms created after an organism is infected by a extreme dosage of electromagnetic and/or particle radiation.

AI generated image of a radiation zombie.

Above: AI depiction of a radiation zombie.

  • Evil Magic Zombies (EMZ): EMZ's are zombie life forms created via some form of occult experimentation in what might otherwise be referred to as “evil magic”.

Ai generated photo of an evil magic zombie.

Above: AI depiction of an evil magic zombie.

  • Space Zombies (SZ): SZ's are zombie life forms originating from space or created by toxic contamination of the earth environment via some form of extra-terrestrial toxin or radiation.

AI depiction of a space zombie as identified in CONPLAN 8888.

Above: AI depiction of a space zombie.

  • Weaponized Zombies (WZ): WZ's are zombie life forms deliberately created via bio/bio-mechanical engineering for the purpose of being employed as weapons.

AI generated photo of a weaponized zombie.

Above: AI depiction of a weaponized zombie.

  • Symbiant-Induced Zombies (SIZ): SIZ's are zombie life forms originating from the introduction of a symbiant life form into an otherwise healthy host Although the symptoms of symbiant zombieism is similar in most regards to pathogenic zombeism, the symbiant does not kill the host organism quickly, or at all.

AI generated photo of a symbiotic zombie as described in CONPLAN 8888.

Above: AI depiction of a symbiant-induced zombie.

  • Vegetarian Zombies (VZ): VZ's are zombie life forms originating from any cause but pose no direct threat to humans because they only eat plant life.

AI generated photo of a vegetarian zombie.

Above: AI depiction of a vegetarian zombie.

  • Chicken Zombies (CZ): Although it sounds ridiculous, this is actually the only proven class of zombie that actually exists.

AI generated photo of a chicken zombie.

Above: AI depiction of a chicken zombie.

Potential Military Actions

In the event of a zombie incursion, CONPLAN 8888 suggests several phases for global governments and militaries to implement. The phase descriptions within the plan are vague, but his allows for military planners to adapt to a zombie threat in an agile way. There are six phases in total, (Phase 0 through Phase 5), and each phase suggestions both offensive and defensive actions, as well as contingencies for civil authorities. On a note unrelated to the topic of surviving a zombie apocalypse, this type of planning mirrors how military strategists deal with real world scenarios, and you may notice similarities to how threats and conflicts are handled on a global scale even today.

  • Phase 0: Shape
    Offense – Conduct normal combat operations training. Ensure forces conduct annual Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) and Continuity Of Operations (COOP) training.
    Defense – Conduct general zombie awareness training. Ensure readiness of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) equipment. Monitor vectors of zombie contamination for increased threat.
    Support to Civil Authorities – Form Joint Interagency Contingency Group (JIACG), to ensure contingency plans are synchronized with other federal, state and tribal agencies.
  • Phase 1: Deter
    Offense – Conduct large scale training to demonstrate ability to decisively target and negate zombie-creating pathogens, toxins or similar capabilities developed by nations states, or large corporations to terrorist/criminal groups.
    Defense – Zombies cannot be deterred themselves. Conduct large scale training to demonstrate ability to survive and operate in a toxic/contaminated environment in order to deter nations states from pursuing development or deployment of zombies. Creating pathogens, toxins or similar capabilities developed by nations states, or large corporations to terrorist/criminal groups.
    Support to Civil Authorities – As authorized by the President of the United States (POTUS) and the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), initiate intelligence sharing and provide technical advisory services to federal, state and tribal agencies. Provide Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assistance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and curtail migration of lifeforms and//or toxic materials from areas where zombie-related disease vectors originate.

AI generated photo of a military fighting a zombie horde in a city.

Above: AI depiction of the military fighting the zombie horde in an urban center.

  • Phase 2: Seize Initiative
    Offense – If necessary, begin limited scale military operations to negate zombie threat.
    Defense – Recall all personnel to duty stations. Begin fortification of all operating locations and initiate distribution of CBRNE protection equipment. Activate COOP Plans. Place deployable command and control capabilities on alert.
    Support to Civil Authorities – On order form POTUS or SECDEF, provide security to civilian areas, evacuation zones, and assist other federal, state, and tribal agencies with the surveillance of and enforcement of quarantine areas.
  • Phase 3: Dominate
    Offense – Issue orders for defensive forces to kill all non-human life on sight. Initiate bomber and missile strikes against targeted sources of zombie infection, and zombie support infrastructure using all available forces. Ensure all zombie corpses are immolated.
    Defense – Lock down all operating locations for 30 days. Assume Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) 2 inside all work stations and direct MOPP-4 for all personnel who venture outside fortified positions.
    Support to Civil Authorities – Be prepared to participate in “render-safe” operations within the Continental United States (CONUS), U.S. territories, or other foreign territories as directed by POTUS and SECDEF.
  • Phase 4: Stabilize
    Offense – Target all main body and hold out vectors of zombie influence and contagion using all avaliable military capabilities. Continue all actions from previous phase
    Defense – Deploy recon teams after D+30 to ascertain general safety of environment near locations for human habitation. Execute a counter-zombie ISR plan to identify holdout pockets of zombie resistance.
    Support to Civil Authorities – Provide support to follow-on “render-safe” operations in areas contaminated by zombie-inducing pathogens, toxins, magic, or other malign influence as directed by POTUS and SECDEF.
  • Phase 5: Restore Civil Authority
    Offense – Reconstitute combat capabilities at Offutt, Whiteman Airforce Base's, Vanderberg Space Force Base and Ft. Meade. Prepare to redeploy the forces to attack surviving zombie holdouts.
    Defense – N/A
    Support to Civil Authorities – As directed by POTUS and SECDEF, provide support to federal, state, and tribal agencies efforts to restore basic services in zombie-related disaster areas.

Assumptions and Fallacies

CONPLAN 8888 goes on to list what the planners believed are going to be the conditions under which the zombies will be affected. Some include the fact that the threat will grow larger with each human death, since their body will be incorporated into the zombie horde. Planners also recognize that supply lines and resources could be inhibited. They even had the foresight to recognize that some zombies, such as the EMZ's, may not be destroyed by fire (the preferred method to completely eradicate the threat).

There are a few glaring oversights in these assumptions, including the nature of viruses. Some viruses have long incubation periods. Symptoms of malaria can manifest as long as 30 days after being infected. If humanity had to face off against a PZ threat, huge swaths of the population could quickly become infected without anyone knowing before it's too late. In this case, pre-emptive identification of the pathogen would be crucial if the human race wanted survive.

AI generated photo of a battle between zombie hordes and an overwhelmed military.

Above: AI depiction of an aerial view of a zombie vs. military battle.

Using kinetic operations against zombies may also be a poor choice. If organic matter was dispersed with munitions, or incinerated fall-out from destroying zombie corpses was spread on atmospheric currents, that in itself could have disastrous unintended consequences. Then there are infinite unknowns of what capabilities space zombies or EMZ's might have.


Examining CONPLAN 8888 closer unveils a broader theme – the imperative of imaginative thinking in the realm of defense and survival strategies. The whimsy of the plan ironically aligns with the current wave of interest in dystopian scenarios, fueled further by the global pandemic. The document, though created pre-pandemic, resonates with the modern-day emphasis on preparedness against novel and unexpected threats. While zombies remain confined to fiction, the exercise reflects the military's creativity in devising plans for any contingency, no matter how bizarre. CONPLAN 8888 not-so-subtly imparts a lesson in thinking outside conventional frameworks when devising survival strategies, a tenet crucial in today’s unpredictable world.


  • Q: What is the Conop 8888 plan?
    A: CONPLAN 8888, also known as Counter-Zombie Dominance, is a U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Command CONOP document that describes a plan for the United States and its military defending against zombies.
  • Q: What are the chances of a zombie outbreak?
    A: The possibility of a human zombie pandemic is extremely unlikely but, as said by the CDC, it always pays to be prepared.
  • Q: Will zombies come in future?
    They are fictional, like werewolves and vampires, so one should not worry about a zombie apocalypse. Marc Lawrence, an author, said “there is zero possibility of a zombie apocalypse due to necrosis.” Corpses would rot away within a few weeks, if not sooner.

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