By Dr. Pietro D. Marghella
Senior Contributing Editor of HSToady
Special to In Homeland Security
It’s been many months since the Defense Department’s fictitious CONPLAN 8888-11, Counter-Zombie Defense, was made public and held up to ridicule – some declaring it another example of wasteful Pentagon spending. I mean, come on, frittering money on a fictitious plan for countering a zombie apocalypse? But the fact is, CONPLAN 8888-11 is brilliant on so many levels. My first reaction was I’m so incredibly proud of our military. This effort is like a “knowledge force multiplier” on the issues of planning, crisis response and asymmetrical threat.
Probably the best and most important thing they did with CONPLAN 8888-11 was to make it available on Intellipedia so both the American public, and, more importantly, the emergency management community could look at and work with the best example of a CONPLAN template they could possibly find.
As the authors’ of the fictitious counter-zombie plan noted — it’s funny and entertaining. It was designed that way so its concepts would be entertaining to digest. Even though a 6th grader could probably grasp the underlying metaphor for “terrorist” and a novel “pathogenic threat,” by using humor and a metaphoric zombie threat characterization embedded in pop culture, they removed real fear from the equation and (probably without the less sophisticated reader understanding it) walked those who “consume” it through the logical process of threat characterization and the requirements associated with preparedness, mitigation response and recovery against new, unforeseen … and otherwise very fearful threats.
The plan also very clearly demonstrated that the co-mingled efforts of planning and response are multi- or, even hyper-dimensional efforts, where no single silo of a critical infrastructure sector—or, in the case of this particular scenario, society itself—could work in a vacuum and possibly hope to achieve success. It’s all co-mingled. I have used the analogy of Star Trek’s iconic character, Spock’s 3-dimensional chess game for a long time to describe the complexities of planning and response, i.e., when one piece is moved on one layer or dimension of the game, it has a cause-and-effect impact on another that must be accommodated.
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