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Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles April 26, 2023

The zombie apocalypse isn't coming. Defense Department and CDC plans were for a mock catastrophe.

If Your Time is short

  • An unclassified document from the Defense Department detailed a plan against a zombie apocalypse as a training exercise. It was not a real scenario. 

  • The Centers for Disease Control included a poster of a zombie in a a campaign to highlight the importance of being prepared for any type of disaster, such as a hurricane or pandemic.

Write your preparedness checklist now: the zombie apocalypse is coming. At least, that’s what a Facebook video wants you to believe.

The April 14 video opens with a CBS News clip about an unclassified Defense Department document outlining a plan "to respond to many kinds of walking dead, including chicken zombies." The anchor said the plan was an "in-house training tool to teach students how to deal with widespread national emergency."

The Facebook video hinted that the Pentagon’s document was part of something far more nefarious —a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plot. 

"So the CDC made a poster that said ‘Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Prepared.’ And they have the creepy, grave-looking fingers staring out of the window," the narrator said, showing an image of a poster with a zombielike figure peering through a window. "So the CDC puts out this Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness kit in the year 2011, and they also have numbered it 6023." The narrator claimed there’s a deeper, spiritual meaning to those numbers.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.) 

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But you can relax. The CDC and Pentagon are not in cahoots to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. 

The Pentagon’s document about zombies was part of a training, not a plan for a real scenario. In 2014, a spokesperson for the Pentagon’s U.S. Strategic Command told CNN the document was part of an exercise in which "students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario."

The document has a disclaimer marked in red on the first page: "This fictitious plan was created by junior military officers undergoing training related to the Department of Defense’s Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES), the formalized process by which the Department conducts all contingency planning and execution. In an effort to learn the JOPES process, and to do so in a more interesting way, the students were assigned this completely fictitious scenario and directed to use JOPES to develop a written contingency plan." 

The CDC’s zombie poster is real, but doesn’t announce impending doom. The agency in 2011 said that the poster was intended as an attention-grabber to "get people thinking about emergency preparedness."

No zombie apocalypse is coming. We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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The zombie apocalypse isn't coming. Defense Department and CDC plans were for a mock catastrophe.

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