Zombies and national security

my Trade Tripper column in this weekend issue of BusinessWorld:

While everybody is raving mad about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), I’d rather reserve judgment until I’ve actually read the document. In the meantime, however, what with the US Defense Department reportedly having developed a comprehensive response plan in case of a zombie apocalypse, then perhaps having an EDCA isn’t such a bad thing after all.

As told by Foreign Policy (“Exclusive: The Pentagon has a plan to stop the zombie apocalypse. Seriously.”, by Gordon Lubold; 13 May 2014), the US military has “an unclassified document ... called ‘CONOP 8888.’ It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead -- from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even ‘evil magic zombies’ -- and destroy them.”

CONOP 8888, otherwise known as “Counter-Zombie Dominance”, and apparently prepared last April 2011, “fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde.” Furthermore, “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.”

Clearly, this is no laughing matter. As I wrote previously, zombies’ unfortunate essential nature is to eat people’s brains. Marilla Mulwane, in (the quite ironical) Life Paths 360 Blog, confirms that the known characteristics of zombies are pale grey skin, unhealed wounds, lack of communication skills (no zombie can carry an intelligent conversation), shuffling when trying to walk, and a one-track mind. Of the last: “Here is the most obvious way to tell if you are dealing with a zombie. They are only interested in one thing: your brains. Zombies will do nothing but shuffle along in the direction that they sense the brains are. They will not be distracted by anything else. They will hunt down the brains even if it means falling over cliffs, into burning buildings, or into someone’s pitchfork. Because of this, zombies are incredibly easy to spot.”

On other hand, zombie.wikia.com describes zombies as “a person who has lost his or her sense of self-awareness and identity, and cares only for the destruction (and often consumption) of any human around, no matter what the circumstances, or cost to his or her self. They make up for this loss of intelligence in sheer numbers, as the state of zombieism is almost always contagious, and spreads like wildfire. Technically speaking, true zombies are always dead.”

However, if it turns out that the EDCA does not provide protection to the Philippines in case of a zombie apocalypse, then we obviously have to fend for ourselves. Katie Kirnan (“10 Ways to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse”, 13 October 2013) gives us some ideas on how to do so:

• Wear comfortable, sensible shoes: You’ll be on the run for the rest of your life (well, until you’re killed or a cure is found, whichever comes first);
• Adopt pro-gun attitudes. Conserve your ammo and be mindful of the noise you’re attracting, but don’t hesitate to blow that zombie’s brain.
• Always leave a note.
• Avoid the following: children, pregnant women, and fat people. It’s nothing personal. But none of them travel well (or quietly) in a normal situation, let alone in a terrifying zombie hell.
• Brown-nose the following: athletes, doctors, and scientists. Their knowledge is still more relevant and practical than your degree in Asia-Pacific Studies/Comparative Literature.
• Refrain from unprotected sexual intercourse until you’re absolutely prepared to start repopulating the species. If you get pregnant, you will give birth.
• Supervise your kids. Keep a special eye on your children if they’re named Sophia or Carl. Sophias and Carls tend to go missing more often than the normal child (about twice an episode in The Walking Dead).
• Stay positive.

Of course, her best advice would be to get Daryl Dixon as your wingman. And also, it must be pointed out that, as even Ms. Kirnan admits, the above would be applicable only to the slow shuffling zombies. Not the fast and furious zombies of28 Days Later or World War Z.

If you feel your zombie survival instincts need further honing, have no fear. You can train in a zombie survival camp in the US. 4KXLF.com reported (“Zombie survival camp opens in New Jersey”; 19 May 2014) that “the camp focuses on the skills you need to survive a zombie apocalypse, or any other natural disaster.”

Most useful would be the “‘Zombitsu’ (how to fight off an attacking zombie) as well as how to pack a ‘bug-out bag’ containing all the supplies you need to survive” for at least 72 hours. Me? I’d prefer a really sharp samurai sword.

So there you have it. Preparation, after all, means everything. As one local celebrity puts it: “you can never can tell”.