Worldbuilding Five Reasons Zombies Could Never Defeat the Military May 9th, 2015 by Oren Ashkenazi Our pop culture is, to put it mildly, obsessed with zombies. They’re everywhere, from our TV to our comic books to our novels to our video games. There’s at least one widely read guide for surviving the fictional zombie apocalypse. Most of these stories share the same basic premise: a ragtag group of survivors struggling to hold their own in a city/world overrun with the undead. What’s odd is that no one ever stops to ask how the world became overrun in the first place. It’s always something that just kind of happened, usually off screen.* This is one of the most ridiculous premises ever conceived. You see, we have these things called armies that are very, very good at killing things. Most zombie stories pay some kind of lip service to the military being overrun, and no one seems to realize just how absurd that is. Lets take a look at just a handful of reasons this would never actually happen. 1. Machine Guns The nearly infinite variety of machine guns in the world all have one thing in common: they shoot lots and lots of bullets. Hundreds of rounds per minute, at least. The amount of damage machine guns can inflict is staggering. How useful would they be against zombies? Well, one of the most iconic images from World War One is of mass infantry charges being mowed down by defenders with machine guns. Mass charges, or at least mass shambles, are really all zombies do. They come forward in a wave, and they’ll meet the exact fate that befell the lost souls of the western front. Some will argue that zombies need to be shot in the head, which is a hard target to aim at. Fortunately, the legs are much easier target. Disable a zombie’s legs, and it’s essentially no longer a threat. Aim the machine gun a little lower than normal, and then sweep it back and forth. That should do the trick. There’s also the question of ammunition. Zombies come in hordes, after all. Thing is, the military has a lot of bullets. They need them in modern warfare because most bullets never hit anything. That’s because humans know how to take cover, but zombies don’t. Frankly, the army wouldn’t need that much ammunition, since they could easily destroy the first few undead before there was time to spread the infection. 2. Landmines In real life, anti-personnel mines are horrible weapons that the world would be better off without.* In the zombie apocalypse, you can bet they’d be brought out in a heartbeat. Humans generally know to stay away from a minefield once the first mine goes off. Zombies, by their very nature, cannot be intelligent enough to figure this out. They’ll just keep shambling* right through until there are either no mines or no zombies left. Since they explode from below, landmines will take out a zombie’s legs. As mentioned, this makes the zombie effectively harmless. And since the entire point of zombies is that they can be killed 100% guilt free, there’s no need to worry about those pesky human rights advocates.* Because zombies are also easy to predict, luring them into minefields is ridiculously easy. Just pile up some brains on the other side of a minefield and watch the incredibly gory fireworks. On second thought, maybe don’t watch that. Gross. 3. Body Armor Zombies rely on biting, scratching, and occasionally bludgeoning to inflict harm. In most zombie stories, they’re limited to human strength, albeit human strength that doesn’t tire. Fortunately, our technology has moved on a bit from the days when teeth were considered cutting edge weaponry, and bite-proof armor is well within reach. To my knowledge there’s no study showing how effective the US Army’s Interceptor armor is at preventing bites, but as it’s made of kevlar and ceramic plates, it can probably get the job done. On the off chance that it can’t, there are other options. Dog bite suits, while goofy looking, are verifiably bite-proof. If that option isn’t stylish enough, the army could always pay the Ren Fair a visit and pick up some chainmail. That’ll stop undead teeth no problem. Soldiers can’t get infected if they can’t be bitten. This removes one of the major dangers in any zombie apocalypse. You know the scenario: one member of a group is careless, gets bitten, and then stumbles back to infect the rest of the group. If all the soldiers are protected from head to toe, that risk is eliminated. 4. Tanks Have you ever tried to bite or punch a tank? I wouldn’t recommend it. Stopping one of these armored land battleships requires very heavy weaponry, and I don’t recall the last time I saw zombies employing shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. The destructive power of a tank almost goes without saying. Not only do they have those impressive cannons, most tanks also mount at least one machine gun.* Even if ammunition was low, tanks could easily mulch hundreds of zombies just by running them over. As stated before, zombies are really stupid and don’t know to get out of the way. There’s a scene early in the Walking Dead where the main character stumbles onto an abandoned tank with a dead soldier inside. It’s difficult to imagine the scenario in which that took place. Even if the tank was completely out of fuel, the crew could have hidden inside for however long it took for another tank to show up and rescue them. It’s also unlikely that gas would be an issue at all, because the army has armored fuel trucks as well. It turns out they’ve considered how to deliver fuel in dangerous situations. Who’d have thought? These points apply to any reasonably armored vehicles, not just tanks. Once it’s past a certain size, you don’t even need weapons mounted on it. The vehicle itself becomes a weapon. Even if you’re dealing with Left 4 Dead style special zombies, my money’s on the steel war machine over any undead, no matter how souped-up they are. 5. Airplanes and Helicopters And you thought biting a tank was hard. These fighter jets and whirly birds don’t even have the decency to play on the zombies’ level. Instead they zip around in the wild blue yonder, turning the undead into just regular dead. The destructive potential of modern airpower is hard to overestimate. A decently equipped air force can easily reduce a city to rubble, along with all the shamblers inside it. That kind of damage is usually restrained in real life, because there needs to be something left to conquer, but all bets are off once the dead start to rise. Not only are aircraft powerful, they’re also relatively precise.* Precise enough that they can support any ground soldiers being overwhelmed by zombies. Zombies don’t know how to take cover in air raid shelters, so they’d just be standing out in the open. An A-10 Warthog’s rapid fire cannon can easily turn the mightiest horde into a fire red haze. Since zombies are notably lacking in anti-aircraft weapons, there’s little risk to the planes or their pilots. The biggest potential problem would be zombies shambling onto airbases while the planes are refueling, but those bases are guarded by everything else on this list, so it’s not likely. Really, planes and helicopters are probably overkill against zombies. More likely the military would deploy unmanned drones, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a use for those that isn’t ethically compromising? Predator drones can stay in the air for more than a day at a time, hunting down any undead that dare to show their rotting faces. Since zombies can’t understand what a drone is, that would be pretty much all of them. None of this is to suggest that a zombie outbreak would be pleasant. There would be deaths, especially in the first few hours as people figured out what the rules were, but it could never spread to world-ending proportions. Humans are just too good at killing things. Zombies are doomed by the very thing that makes them such perfect bad guys: they’re unintelligent. If they were smart enough to counter our vast arsenal of weapons, we’d have to think twice about killing them. (Psst! If you liked my article, check out my magical mystery game.) Read more about Monsters, Weapons, Zombies Comments Claire May 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm I’m curious as to if you’ve ever read World War Z by Max Brooks? The author briefly goes into why many modern military tactics and equipment is ill suited to handle zombies, namely that they rely on maiming rather then outright killing, which if you’re a zombie, you’re not really going to care about your lungs hanging out if your spleen liver has been doing so for the last two weeks. Also, body armour does not guarantee absolute protection. Most armour leaves the face and limbs unprotected (for obvious reason), so all it takes is one bite to the shins or brain splatter and you’ve got an infection risk. Also, most machine guns rely on laying down a suppressing cone of fire, so hitting a zombie in the legs is difficult. And even if you smash their legs, they’re really not going to care and will probably keep shambling towards you even if they’ve lost everything below the knee. Not saying competent anti-zombie military isn’t stupid, just that it’s probably not the stomp you describe. Reply to Claire Oren Ashkenazi May 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm I have not read WWZ, however I did read and very much enjoy the Zombie Survival Guide by the same author. Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Devin May 9, 2015 at 9:01 pm Brooks’s explanation is nonsense, though.* If your bones are pulped, ain’t nothing your muscles can really do anymore, so a sufficiency of maiming will do the job just fine (and you can come back through wearing an EOD suit with a stick to poke through their skulls at your leisure). Some military weapons would be significantly less useful against zombies than humans, it’s true. This includes small-caliber ARs, most grenades, and (sorry Oren) land mines.** But others would work just fine, including any kind of big HE payload like bombs, artillery, tank main guns, etc (overpressure and fragmentation effects should work just fine on zombies) or machine guns. That “suppressing cone of fire” you’re talking about is tactical, not mechanical: it’s what you have to do with this weapon to be effective as an element of a fireteam operating against trained human soldiers, it’s not the only thing the weapon can be made to do. Big bullets fired rapidly will cut down zombies almost as fast as they’d cut down humans in the same formation, and a damn sight faster than they’d cut down humans running for cover. And you’re right that present-day military body armor isn’t well-designed for zombie infighting, but that doesn’t mean a minimal redesign couldn’t fix that. A faceplate and forearm defenses, plus beefed up glove facings, would just about do the trick. It wouldn’t make you invulnerable, but it would mean that a conscious, struggling soldier should be able to protect his or her unarmored areas without any real danger. (Try it! Put on some old clothes, take a Sharpie as a combat knife, have your roommate stick a Sharpie in his or her mouth for zombie teeth, and get to wrestling. If you get sharpied on your neck, palm, armpit, inner elbow, crotch seam, or back of the knee before you can sharpie their head, they win.) *Not his most egregious pile of shit, however. He doesn’t seem to have thought about his Russian sequences at all. Just for starters, he figures when they gear up they’ll probably just skip over their massive armaments industry and their stockpiles of older weapons, including millions and millions of Kalashnikov-family guns and something like a hundred thousand T-55 tanks (plus at least half that in newer models), to pull out the museum pieces (I mean, I love the T-34 as much as anyone, but there are probably less than a thousand surviving vehicles and most of them don’t run. Plus, nobody’s made ammo for the guns in half a century.) Plus, he’s racist as fuck. Oh, you’re not American? Cool, here are two stereotypes about you that Max Brooks thinks are true. Go on now, that’s your storyline! Russians are patriotic and don’t care about human life! Japanese are otaku and/or Zatoichi! **You could relatively quickly make zombie-effective land mines. But present models will basically just blow your leg off. Won’t really stop a zombie (though it’d sure help). You’d want either something with a lot more explosive in it, or something like a Bouncing Betty to put high-velocity fragments out at head-height. Reply to Devin Claire May 9, 2015 at 10:32 pm I’ll admit I’m not a military buff like yourself, with most of my military knowledge coming from my uncle (Irish army lieutenant), so I’ll bow out. I also read WWZ when I was very young, so I probably have a little nostalgia filter on, hence why I forgot about the racism till now Reply to Claire Oren Ashkenazi May 9, 2015 at 11:39 pm Devin went into a lot more detail than I was planning to, but that’s about the size of it. Although I think he’s counting land mines out a bit too quickly! Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Chris Winkle May 10, 2015 at 1:47 am I’m really curious as to why blowing a leg off wouldn’t be good enough against zombies. Sure, they can pull themselves by their arms or hop if them still have one leg, but their mobility would be so low as to make them non-threatening. Movies have managed to make dramatic fights scenes between a human and as little as a single zombie hand, but that’s using camera angle tricks and implausible movement from the hand. It’s really hard to imagine a legless zombie could overcome even someone without training. Someone who’s sleeping, maybe? Reply to Chris Winkle Cay Reet November 5, 2016 at 4:59 am The problem is that zombies are relentless. They have no sense of time. If it takes them five hours to crawl across the room and bite you (biting your feet or legs will be sufficient, too), then that’s what they will do. Sure, you can run away, but unlike a zombie, you have to sleep, you have to rest, you have to let down your guard sometime. You might get trapped somewhere and, unlike a zombie, you will find it hard to hack off a limb stuck somewhere. And that is why you have to deal with legless zombies, too. A legless zombie could be crawling below vision, under some shrubs or even under a slight cover of earth (since zombies also don’t breathe). Imagine a field full of zombies which have been mowed down by a machine gun attack. Unlike enemy soldiers, they’re not screaming, wailing, or moaning in agony. They feel no pain. They have one thought, one order, stuck in their head: find human, bite human. They can’t walk, but most of them will still be able to wriggle or crawl. So the next step after the machine gun attack should be something like fire bombs or napalm. You can kill a zombie with a bullet, but, honestly, burning is more efficent. Also, don’t underestimate what a being can do only with their hands and arms. There are humans who miss most of their legs or even all of them and are still pretty mobile. Sure, they have a working brain to help them, but if you’re just determined enough, that means you can get far on your arms alone, especially if time has no meaning. Reply to Cay Reet Oren Ashkenazi May 10, 2015 at 8:59 am The scourge of late risers everywhere! Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Matt Black May 11, 2015 at 11:36 am The problem with big HE payload weapons/delivery systems is the common zombie trope is that the potential threat of Z’s is never recognized quickly enough. Military never assesses the threat properly, therefore they can’t use HE in areas that aren’t completely, 100% overrun. Tanks require so much fuel and cannot cross most bridges or use many roads, they are just too heavy. Some of these problems are addressed in Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series. As far as machine guns, only belt-fed, cooled guns would be effective. The amount of ammo that soldiers would need to carry would be very heavy, and since anything but a headshot would be essentially wasted, it would not be terribly effective. As far as the body armor redesigns, it goes back to how fast the outbreak happens compared to the true threat recognition. Is there enough time to redesign, produce, and distribute before most bases or units are overrun? Reply to Matt Black Hunter Bongianino November 5, 2016 at 12:17 am Easily spread by bite doesn’t wouldn’t take a week to be global it would take much more also tanks can be dropped by plane ore Helo to where they are needed. Another thing is we have strategy where we wouldn’t just all out rush a city we would create choke points form lines and push similar to ww1 except we have rifles machine guns and armor while they have teeth Reply to Hunter Bongianino Cay Reet November 5, 2016 at 5:09 am That depends on whether it only spreads from one place or from several. If someone where to deliberately turn people into zombies, for instance, they’d do well to place several points of origins, preferably on several continents. And even if it spreads slow, if you have enough carries who might not be zombies, fighting it will be difficult. A plague evolves and that means it might spread a lot further and faster the longer it exists. And the most dangerous ability of a zombie isn’t its teeth, it’s the fact that it doesn’t get exausted or bored. It will not stop because it gets injured, it won’t have to rest, it won’t get bored with trying to break down a door for ten hours straight. It won’t back down or run away in fear, because fear or the realisation that you’re outnumbered and outgunned needs a working brain. Devin May 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm Chris, blowing a leg off is a damn sight better than nothing, no doubt. But present-day stockpiles… I’m not so sure it’d be a tactically-useful option for most situations. See, you’ve got to bury all these mines, right? And then you have to sit on the other side of the mines, wait for them to go off, and then go in and do decon, because you can’t just leave a thousand one-legged zombies crawling across the countryside… They’re not as dangerous, sure, certainly not to a military force, but they are still dangerous if left alone. So now you have this huge, huge HAZMAT problem: a thousand wounded zombies crawling across a partially-detonated minefield. I don’t care how much you pay me, I am not going to be the guy who goes in there to kill the zombies and clear the mines. Not even if you give me a metal detector with a spike on the end. And there’s a question of proportion too: use ten times as many mines as zombies (per meter of width, and assuming the field is in a chokepoint) and you figure a mine detonates under every zombie foot, sure, but you probably now have a huge unexploded ordnance problem. Use fewer, and you have to figure there are plenty of mobile zombies getting through, and you STILL have an unexploded ordnance problem (because mines just aren’t that reliable). Present-day mines would be useful for chokepoints like passes, and redesigned anti-zombie mines could have broader applications (especially with something like FASCAM), but I don’t see them being popular or effective for broad use. It’s worth noting here that human-on-human military use of minefields is as an area-denial device to buy time. If you’re actually ready to defend this area, you set up a killing zone: machine guns, artillery, the whole nine yards. (Maybe mines too, but you’re not expecting antipersonnel mines to do the heavy lifting.) You only use a minefield instead if you don’t have the resources and need to buy time to escape/regroup/dig in/get reinforcements. Needless to say, that won’t work on zombies: they won’t stop to clear the mines or look for a way around. Reply to Devin GeniusLemur September 6, 2016 at 9:00 am Actually, the military has various “instant minefield” systems. And once there’s a big batch of zombies crawling around, just drop napalm on the lot of them. Reply to GeniusLemur justkiddinya March 26, 2017 at 6:52 am Why would they need to bury the mines? Again, they’re mindless enemies. Just scatter them on the ground. Reply to justkiddinya El Suscriptor Justiciero August 4, 2017 at 4:14 am And make sure to paint them reflective orange for easier clearing. Oren Ashkenazi May 11, 2015 at 12:14 pm Would we have to bury them, you think? Maybe just leave them in the street with signs saying “if you can read this don’t step on me.” Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Cay Reet November 5, 2016 at 4:35 am Depending on the type of virus, it might be wise to burn them to eradicate everything. Otherwise, predators feeding on the decaying flesh might get zombiefied – and I don’t think anyone wants zombie coyotes or feral zombie cats and zombie dogs. Reply to Cay Reet Georgia January 9, 2018 at 8:03 pm They wouldn’t need sufficient body armor in the first place. If you wear thick clothing a zombie could not break your skin with a bite just like a human being can not bite through thick clothing. If you plan on having the zombie sit there biting your limb for a long time until it manages to break through the clothing if its possible then that’s an issue, but since zombies are rotting corpses the muscle decay in the jaw would damage the jaw muscles anyways. Reply to Georgia Cay Reet January 10, 2018 at 5:23 am Good point. I’d suggest denim, since it’s rather resistant to damage and there’s an abundance of it around. Reply to Cay Reet Hunter Bongianino November 5, 2016 at 12:09 am You may be right however, the reason it would be different for zombies is they would take no evasive maneuvers making them much easier to hit. I also liked how you left out tanks which I reckon could take out a majority of zombies in any city without ground troops, and then send troops in to sweep stragglers. And airforce miniguns can shoot anywhere from 2000-6000 rounds a minute which I reckon would result in numerous zombie kills even without direct aim. Reply to Hunter Bongianino james July 7, 2017 at 9:15 am guys lets not over think and over complicate matters. zombies will not survive humans period. first think about this there are about 12 billion bullets sold in america every year(does not include military/government consumption) and america has about 300 million population. an educated guess there are at least 20 billion unused bullets(very conservative) in america now which means you have enough bullets to shoot everyone in america 60 times in case everyone turns to zombies, or shoot 7 billion zombies on the planet 3 times over. there are about 9 million gun freaks( called super owners) in america, and each gun freak packs 1thousand rounds(very conservative estimate) , each gun freak just needs to hole up and shoot 33 zombies each in the head to kill all 300 million zombies in america. thats only american civilian firepower. if thats not enough now lets add US military firepower. there are more than 100 military installations scattered around america, each installation packs at least 6 million rounds of ammo(again conservative), assuming the civilians dont kill a single zombie, each military base just needs to hole up and kill 3 million zombies to kill all 300 million zombies in america. civilian time frame: if each of the 9 million american gun freaks can hole up and kill 3 zombies per day, then all 300million zombies are dead in ten days(starting from the day 90% all of america is infected). military time frame: lets say a military installation has 100 soldiers positioned on the walls of a base or high building against zombie hoards, each soldier shoots in the head 50 zombies per hour for 12 hours every day then all 100 military installations will kill all 300 million zombies in america in 45 days. break this logic. Reply to james Cay Reet July 7, 2017 at 11:24 am Your logic breaks with the premise that bullets will be sufficient to kill zombies. What are you going to shoot? Their heads? They don’t need their brains any longer. Their bodies? Their organs don’t work any longer. Their arms or legs? They will crawl on as long as they have one apendage. My bet during a zombie apocalypse is on fire or heavy stuff like tanks, not on bullets. Reply to Cay Reet james July 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm i must have missed that movie or tv show that showed zombies dont die if you blow their brains out. and its not a premise that there are far more bullets than there are people, its a fact. Reply to james Dave L August 4, 2017 at 7:29 am Return of the Living Dead Part II Georgia January 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm With your logic, what keeps a zombie up and running? If the brain is completely useless then how does it function? Clearly the idea of a dead person coming back to life is ridiculous, but if the zombie has no use for its brain then how is it reanimated? Clearly a body can not function on a dead brain but in the zombies case something reanimates it. So if you shot the head with something like a shotgun you have a higher chance at destroying the parts of the brain that contribute to the zombies reanimation. Reply to Georgia Cay Reet January 10, 2018 at 5:21 am Generally, a multi-cell organism (like a human body) needs one area of control, but it’s not always responsible for everything. Jellyfish have nothing which resembles a brain, but they live. Squid and octopuses have ‘brains’ in their tentacles, which allow those to work without input from the ‘main’ brain. Insectoid robots where created a few years ago which have small electronic ‘brains’ in their legs, which means the movement is not controlled centrally. If some part of the radiation/bacteria/horrible ancient curse which reanimates the corpses creates some kind of additional centre of control, shooting zombies in the brain won’t stop them. But that is, of course, just playing around with biology, since zombies don’t exist this way. Oren Ashkenazi July 7, 2017 at 11:27 am I think in most zombie stories, a bullet to the head will kill the zombie. Destroying the brain is usually the way to go. Of course a head shot isn’t exactly reliable, which is why I usually advocate for shooting at the legs. A zombie with pulverized leg bones is still dangerous if you come within reach, but is relatively easy to dispose of if you’ve got a long stick. Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Cay Reet July 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm I actually wonder about that … brain matter should decay relatively quickly. My bet would be on the pituary gland keeping the zombies going, because it controls the basic body functions. And a head shot, unless it’s with a very big caliber, wouldn’t be all that reliable. Plus, if the shooting only goes on 12 hours, that gives the zombies 12 hours to approach each day. Once they are close enough, they will start infecting the soldiers with their bites and turn them. Reply to Cay Reet SunlessNick July 7, 2017 at 1:42 pm If the zombies are dead, then the only thing that could possibly keep them going is magic. Though I guess it could be magic with material (your suggestion of pituary gland), somatic (shambling), and verbal (“braaaiiins”) components. Cay Reet July 7, 2017 at 1:50 pm In that case, a bullet to the brain shouldn’t do a thing. Unless, of course, it’s a magically enchanted bullet. SunlessNick July 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm Yep. james July 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm i thot i made it clear that soldiers are position on top of walls or bldngs, if i went in detail it would take forever, at a certain height like maybe 6 meters soldiers are positioned taking headshots, when bodies pile up so high it could reach them, they radio a chopper to fetch them and lay them down a different high bldng/position in the area. Cay Reet July 8, 2017 at 3:24 am Once they move, it will take hour (or more) until the horde has reached them again. You didn’t calculate for that. james July 7, 2017 at 4:40 pm i thot i made it clear that bullets are abundant, if ur not satisfied with a headshot then make it three headshots wont make much difference with the result Reply to james Cay Reet July 8, 2017 at 3:21 am What about one headshot throws the zombie back, so it looks like it’s dead, but it’s not? Sooner or later the surviving (in a matter of speaking) zombies crawl out of the heap of dead ones. By that time, your soldiers have moved on, thinking all zombies at that position are defeated. The zombies move towards the nearest source of humans, which might be civillians who have moved back after the army gave green light. The zombies take down those civillians (who don’t have ammo, because all of it has gone to the soldiers who have better training with guns). Result: more zombies. james July 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm so if 9 million gun freaks kill 3 zombies a day, 100,000 soldiers kill 6million zombies per day, and a third of all gunowners( about 30million) kill at least one zombie, then all 300 million zombies in america are dead in 9 days😀 Reply to james james July 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm 7 days rather Reply to james Cay Reet July 8, 2017 at 8:48 am If you do that, you will not have an end of the epidemic until all humans are zombies. Because if you miss just one, it all starts over again. And in that case, the ammunition will not be enough. If you lose too many humans to the apocalypse, civilisation will collapse and mankind might be eradicated, anyway. Cay Reet July 8, 2017 at 3:23 am Have you taken into account that during those 9 or 7 days the zombies which are still around will probably still multiply? As long as there still are humans, they will find some and add them to their horde. Or do you first want to wait until ever civillian without a weapon has been turned? Until the first zombies have started to walk away from the US towards Canada or Mexico? Or even underwater (zombies don’t need air) to Europe or Japan? Reply to Cay Reet james July 8, 2017 at 6:53 am if any zombies survive then go back to step one till they are all dead wtf the matter with you Cay Reet July 8, 2017 at 8:49 am Sorry, wanted to post this here. If you do that, you will not have an end of the epidemic until all humans are zombies. Because if you miss just one, it all starts over again. And in that case, the ammunition will not be enough. If you lose too many humans to the apocalypse, civilisation will collapse and mankind might be eradicated, anyway. james July 8, 2017 at 11:48 am again no, if you miss one then you just have to kill it later, it wont infect others because there is no one to infect, anymore, the premise is only 3 percent of population is uninfected, these are your gun freaks and soldiers, if my logic is true, 99.9% of zombies are dead in america in just 7 to 8 days, if the logic holds true, that leaves 10 million survivors with billions more extra ammo, plus billions more reloadable ammo and food that could last at least 5 years. if they missed 100,000 zombies, these zombies will be very easy to draw out, just drop some survivors on a high platform , make some noise and the zombies come to you. if you were able to kill 300 million zombies, then it would be a walk in the park to kill 100,000 that you missed using same strategy, after a week of killing zombies, survivors would easily regroup, rebuild and fortify, and expand to other countries using same strategy, all they will need are choppers gas and abundant ammo. zombies will never get to them because they will always be dropped off at high buildings or platforms where they make noise and wait for zombies to come thats the strat. they will never get in close contact with infection. Infighting killed more people then zombies February 23, 2018 at 1:17 pm Why are we speculating on viable strategies for when the dead return? Seems like a pointless wast of time Dave P September 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm Military machine guns come in many different varieties, a M2 “Ma Deuce” will rip zombies apart, like we’re talking a high muzzle velocity that it can tear you in half on a near-miss, that’s not something to mess with. Or you could use a Mk19, cause why not, and then you don’t have to worry about it, cause that’s a machine grenade launcher, and that pretty much just turns Zombies into pulp, and we have a lot of those. And we’re not even not even outside of light infantry ordinance yet, notably light infantry battalions (I’m in one), have mortars, a 60mm mortar is going to really screw probably several dozen zombie’s days, and those two come in larger varieties. And we’re still not at the big guns, like arty. If you evacuate a city, just rain arty on the roads, that would pretty much end zombies with no fuss, they can’t take cover, they don’t move quickly enough for an FO to have a problem with them. Brooks has no clue what he’s talking about, he has no real military background, we don’t aim to maim, we aim to kill, and we’re good at it, we’re even good enough to kill human beings who are intelligent, shooting back, and trying to avoid being killed, unarmed shuffling zombies, two soldiers with a .50 cal and a couple barrels could end thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands. Reply to Dave P Dave P September 25, 2017 at 8:00 pm And another note… aiming to maim, violates the Geneva Convention. Reply to Dave P Cay Reet September 26, 2017 at 3:00 am Thanks for the input! Would maiming a dead person violate the Geneva Convention, though? Reply to Cay Reet Dave P September 26, 2017 at 8:12 am Nope… The prohibition against designing weapons to maim is that it’s undue cruelty. It’s the same reason we aren’t supposed to use poison or chemical weapons. Because it causes unnecessary suffering. Basically a weapon that is designed to leave you hurt and bleeding would violate the Geneva Convention, but not a weapon designed to kill. So theoretically if you were inventing new weapons post-Zombie world, you could design them to maim or injure the zombies, although I’m not sure that’d be the best bang for your buck. Devin May 11, 2015 at 1:01 pm I thought about that, but zombies tend to shuffle and present-day mines tend to have top-down pressure triggers. FASCAM-style with tripwires or the like would work, but again: redesign and remanufacture. Reply to Devin Qondomon May 30, 2015 at 9:58 am (ง ͠° ͟ل͜ ͡°)ง YES! Sorry, i’m not a big expert on guns and bombs, so I will not be able to join in the discussion. But I have to thank you for posting this food to my brain! Nothing better to make more realistic and difficult some dystopia! Reply to Qondomon Qondomon May 30, 2015 at 9:58 am I mean, some zombie dystopia Reply to Qondomon Tamara Ryder July 3, 2015 at 10:15 am Hi. Joining the discussion a little late, I know, but as a veteran I feel compelled to point out that you’re forgetting the most basic advantage militaries have over zombies. Zombies can’t think. They can’t organize or strategize. Being outnumbered isn’t actually such a big problem if you have a strategy that uses all your resources to the greatest advantage. If numbers guaranteed victory, America would still be a British colony. Wars are won by people using their brains, not eating them. Reply to Tamara Ryder Oren Ashkenazi July 3, 2015 at 11:22 am True. The reason I didn’t specifically address the human intelligence advantage is that the general conceit of zombie stories is they’re so hard to kill that being smarter than them isn’t enough. Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Marc Whipple September 10, 2015 at 6:41 am I’ll see your late and raise you. That’s both their weakness and their strength. “Zack don’t panic, and Zack don’t rout.” Even the most desperate human wave attacks are nothing compared to an oncoming zombie horde. Eventually, human beings will give in to either fear or exhaustion and stop attacking a heavily fortified, well-armed position. Zombies won’t. The machine-gun thing is a great example. Yes, machine guns manned by well-trained troops would be about one zillion percent more effective against zombies than they are usually portrayed in the movies. But unless the horde is dense-packed, you’re still going to go through a LOT of ammo* for every Zed you put down. And if it’s dense-packed, you may not have enough ammo ANYWAY. If enough people turn fast enough**, by the time we realize it’s fight-or-die, the hordes may be large enough to overrun anything short of a major base. And, just to make things fun, remember that many kinds of zombies will advance TOWARD the sound of human activity, even if that activity is “machine-gunning zombies.” *Modern soldiers don’t usually “spray and pray,” but machine guns are meant for surpressing fire, and their training reflects that. Human beings are, for the most part, just not dumb enough to run in crowds into machine gun fire anymore. The soldiers are going to have to overcome both their training and the design limitations of modern automatic weapons to use them effectively against zombies. **In some zombie scenarios, e.g. John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising,” or the modern remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” zombies are created not only by contact with the infected, but by systematic and large-scale distribution of the infectious agent. In that case, you start to get hordes very quick and command/control/logistics systems get disrupted before the nature of the threat is known. Reply to Marc Whipple Dave P September 25, 2017 at 8:02 pm I realize this is an old article but .50 caliber ammunition is not hard to come by, and suppressive fire does just fine at making a street into a death zone for zombies. And again, we’re not even not to Mk19s or Mortars which would be even more effective. Reply to Dave P Skylark December 29, 2015 at 8:05 pm Loving this list, if only because I now have a mental image of tiny drone copters chasing down confused zombies. One of my favorite webcomics, Stand Still, Stay Silent, manages to get past most of these by tweaking a few things. First, the virus incubates for up to two weeks, takes a while to show symptoms, and can be airborne. It also infects more than humans, making pets and vermin vectors. Second, most militarily powerful nations are also fairly populated. See point one. There’s a reason the main characters are all descendants of isolated people from Nordic countries. Third, the resulting zombie-critters are a hell of a lot more powerful than your average shambler. It’s easy to shoot out the legs of a humanoid zombie. Taking on a creature the size of a bus with a dozen legs, that rips its way into an armored train? A fair bit harder. Especially since a few have shown some level of intelligence. This article does make me wonder “what about planes?” in that story. We’ve been given a few hints as to why there’s no modern tech, like the belief that tech is the cause of the virus, but I’d think there’d be more holdouts. I’ll give it a pass for now since it’s still updating, but I’d like to see this plot hole filled a little more concretely. Reply to Skylark Hunter_Wolf February 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm Stand Still, Stay Silent sounds quite ineresting, and yeah the one thing the article doesn’t account for is a viral induced zombie apocalypse, Oren just assumes that zombies will spread the infection by biting and scratching, but many zombie stories attribute the zombie outbreak to a virus that usually spreads faster than anyone can deal with it. The Walking Dead example of the dead soldier in a tank could easily be that he died due to the initial infection spreading, WD is -as far as i know- still ambigious about what causes the zombification and why people who die become zombies shortly afterwards. Reply to Hunter_Wolf Oren Ashkenazi February 1, 2016 at 5:33 pm That’s the Left 4 Dead model, and it works better for sure, though in L4D they make it clear that the zombies never actually defeat the military in pitched combat, the military just retreats to avoid the airborne virus. In both Walking Dead and World War Z, which are easily the most commonly known zombie stories in recent years, it’s assumed that the virus is spread primarily through bites. Reply to Oren Ashkenazi Tiramisu September 5, 2017 at 5:56 pm Military doesn’t even matter. Nature has got the zombies all ready destroyed before they can even take the first shambling step. Please, take into account environment in the case of a zombie attack. If I assume correctly, Zombies are mindless walking corpses. They must no longer heal or have any immune system to hold their organs together. So bacteria, the real rulers of the planet, will quickly begin the decomposition process. In southern areas of the planet, this rapid decomposition as well as high temperatures will literally make the zombies explode. In southern areas, zombies will freeze for part of the year, caught in snow or ice. And tissues don’t take to being frozen too well, decay and damage will occur until the zombie’s tissues turn to dust. And this isn’t even talking about the predators. Wolves, coyotes, raccoons, vultures foxes, pumas, and countless other carnivores will quickly descend on the unresistant rotting flesh bags that don’t even have the intelligence to run away. Plants and seeds could even take root in walking zombies. Also, bite borne diseases are the most inefficient way to spread diseases! Remember the time rabies infected everyone and took over the planet? Me neither. Zombitis would be far more terrifying as a blood-borne or airborne disease. Plus, the CDC has specific protocols for epidemics like zombies, and they try to fight tiny diseases that can only be found under a microscope and you don’t even have any obvious symptoms until you’re dead. Any zombie disease with obvious symptoms, easily spotted erratic behavior, CDC would have nailed down in a cinch. Instead of worrying about Zombies at night, worry about all the diseases the world has forgotten about. Smallpox, witch we eradicated so no one has any immunity against anymore. Giant viruses frozen and surviving for thousands of years in the ice. Leprosy, contacted by unsuspecting people picking up armadillos. The last one is totally true, armadillos are the natural carriers for leprosy. Reply to Tiramisu TrueEnglishFoxhound January 23, 2018 at 8:00 am In areas of heat, like most of the 48 in the summer, then the zombies would rot and fall apart in days. In areas where it gets cold, like most of the 48 in winter, then the cold would freeze their body fluids, snapping tendons needed to move and freezer-burning the brain. The only way they could survive is migrate to Alaska in summer and Florida in winter, which I doubt. Most movies potray the disease as unique to humans, so animals cannot be affected. Humans are not at the top of the food chain because we’re strong, but we’re smart. Zombies are just humans without the dangerous use of weapons. And they have to fight US everytime they need to reproduce or eat. Imagine having to fight a guy with a gun bare handed, only with bowling balls tied to your feet. That is the basically the equivalent. For every heavy sleeper who likes to sleep with his doors open gained, 300 more die. You know a disease that turns people into agressive creatures with a desire to bite and spread with no care for physical harm? Rabies. Only with rabies, something can still look normal(not rot-green and appendages occasionaly falling off) and can still RUN. The only advantage I can see is zombies can only be killed by hits to the head, but the steady speed of two miles an hour evens it out. Just stand on the other side of the Grand Canyon with a megaphone and watch them walk over 30 by 30. Actually, due to their lack of camouflage, I fail to see how so many people would get infected in the first place. Just avoid the very slow stinky guy in shredded clothes. Plus, they will have to face a gauntlet of Rednecks who found a human shaped target they can legally kill. Reply to TrueEnglishFoxhound Cay Reet January 23, 2018 at 8:03 am Well, zombies would not start out as visibly rotting corpses … they would start out as mostly normal-looking, perhaps a little greyish, certainly a little slow. Every new zombie will start out that way. It takes for a while until they rot so far that they become visibly rotting corpses. I agree, however, that they do make easy targets … unless we find ourselves in one of those stories where zombies can actually run. I wouldn’t say the heat/cold would be a problem. Animated corpses include skeleton types and those don’t have and tendons or muscles left and still move. Reply to Cay Reet Kenneth January 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm I suspect that most people would hesitate to shoot friends or family members even if they were behaving a little oddly, so newly-made zombies would have an advantage in turning those close to them. However, one method of getting rid of zombies I’ve never seen (or read about) anyone trying is biological warfare. Breeding a species of beetle or corpse-fly that lays its eggs in zombie flesh (and ONLY in zombie flesh) would negate zombies’ main advantage – the speed at which they reproduce. One would only need to release a swarm of such genetically-engineered insects in a zombie-infested area to seek out nearby zombies, lay eggs that hatch into zombie-devouring maggots and then turn into more insects to repeat the cycle. Humans wouldn’t even need to get close. Reply to Kenneth Cay Reet January 24, 2018 at 3:08 am There’s also beetles which actually live off dead flesh (a bit like those scarabs in the 1999 Mummy). They’re used to clean up the bones of small animals for preparation at museums etc. If you bred them to work faster, they’d been cleaning zombies in no time flat. Reply to Cay Reet Adam April 8, 2018 at 11:00 am The US military actually has so many bullets that, after range day or a field exercise, or even a deployment, if there’s extra bullets, we just shoot em off randomly or bury them in the desert. It’s ridiculous how many bullets the military has. Reply to Adam Leave a Comment Cancel Reply Name Email (will not be published) Send me an email alert for: Don't subscribe All Replies to my comments Message By submitting a comment, you confirm that you have read and agree to our comments policy.