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In shows like “The Walking Dead” the zombie apocalypse comes on so swiftly and unexpectedly that the military is helpless to stop it. Units of the armed forces are overwhelmed as hordes of the undead roam the landscape, slaughtering all within their path. But, as it turns out, the Pentagon has developed contingency plans for dealing with a zombie outbreak.

What is CONOP 8888?

CONOP 8888 is a training document that deals with all aspects of how to handle a zombie apocalypse, according to a recent story on CNN.

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In the event of an outbreak, all military personnel would be recalled to their duty stations. Reconnaissance teams would be dispatched to ascertain the seriousness and scope of the situation. Then troops would engage the zombie hordes with “concentrated firepower to the head” followed by burning the corpses. When the zombie threat is neutralized, the military would restore order and start to rebuild civilization.

Of course, the document is for training purposes only. No one in the army seriously believes that any scenario such as “The Walking Dead” could ever happen.

An alternate strategy based on Roman experience

On the other hand, the aggressive search and destroy strategy is not the only one that could be pursued. One alternative is to take an example from the fortified camps the ancient Romans used when they were in enemy territory.

The Romans would build a moat and stockade around their camps to provide an impediment against attack. People enduring a zombie apocalypse could pursue a similar strategy, similar to what Rick’s group did in the prison and the current enclave in Alexandria.

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The idea is to build a wall and then a moat several feet beyond the wall. The zombies, attracted by the noise of human activity, would swarm against these fortifications. When they filled up the moat, the people could pump it full of a flammable liquid and then reduce the undead to ash. Repeat as often as necessary.

When engaging the zombies directly, individual people fighting melee style is not the best way to go. When fighting the undead, form a Roman shield wall, with a triple line so that the front lien can be relieved periodically.

The fighters behind the shield wall can use edged weapons to thrust into the heads of the zombies, killing them systematically. The Romans defeated many times their number of barbarians using these tactics and so can the living defeat the dead.