Friday, March 4, 2011

Level 4

So I'm reading this book about foreign policy implications from a Zombie Apocalypse and other policy issue occurred to me about the likely outcome of a Level 4 outbreak. [Theories of International Politics and Zombies.  Maybe a book review later when I'm finished.]

Thought experiment.  Assume we're at the point in the outbreak when denial has finally lifted.  Even the most idiotic policy maker has had a lightbulb go off over their head and realizes what it is and what it means.  At this point the Zombies are not containable.  But everyone that isn't infected is of one mind pretty much... Survival.

Ok, you got the panicked masses.  Ignore them in this discussion for the most part.  They are an obstacle along with the Zeds.  This post is about what the people are doing to solve the problem, not be the problem.

Most of the Big Picture 'action' is going to be in large disciplined units.  Depending on the ability of the leaders they are going to do one of a very few things.  Defend where they are, or move to engage or go to another place to defend. 

The ones that stay put will have to be lucky.  Taking back the planet from Zed is going to take years.  The war won't be home by Christmas.  Those units that stay put are going to have sustainability problems if not very fortunate.  These folks may be capable but also paralyzed by indecision to do anything but fend off the threat where they sit.  Until it is too late, at least.

The ones that move to engage the horde will be outnumbered and probably end up sacrificing themselves.  This will buy time for the folks behind them, but takes these military units out of contention, obviously. 

Now the smart thinkers that are in no position or circumstance to do the whole bansai charge thing are thinking to move to better ground.  The smart thinkers aren't thinking tactics, they are thinking logistics and trying to preserve their forces for effective counter attack to retake the country, eventually.  These units have a very sticky wicket to deal with, and it is their problems that is the purpose of this post.

Assume it is the problem of an infantry division with a competent commander.  That's 4 brigades with 2500 men each, give or take,  Over a third are non combatant support troops, but that matters less in a Zombie War.  They do have assets, they aren't all afoot.  But assume they might ditch some of the less practical items like much of the artillery.  The artillery, but not the vehicles that tow the artillery.  So it's a big convoy of 10000 soldiers.  Plus the extra folks they want or have to take with them.  Family mostly, if they can and family is accessible.

First, they'll need a defensible location that is adequately supplied.  The supplies have to happen to be in a position that is defensible, as transportation will be quite snarled.  They'll have to bring supplies in anyway, as there really is no one location with enough.  They are adding 10000 mouths, plus 'camp followers' to an area that can't normally keep the store shelves supplied from the warehouse for more than 3 days.  And the stores have been emptied in panic buying due to the pre-relaization emergency that a Level 4 would entail.  People at Level 3 will buy out the stores.  But assume the Commander chose a place where supplies were stockpiled during the run up to this realization of what this emerging threat actually is. 

The defensible location will have to be one that can be quickly and adequately barricaded by the soldiers and the area it encompasses must be able to hold some uninfected refugees and the original population. This defensible area must also be able to sustain all the soldiers and civilians long term so it must be enough or rather fertile farmland.  Compacted in a small area, as defending a large area, making it impermeable, with only 10000 troops is hard to do.

They must make the hard decision on what to do with desperate refugees that come after and how to deal with folks that hide infected loved ones so that the rear area is secure from zombie 'infiltrators.'  It won't be too bad a long term problem as the people outside will quickly become infected.  But the hardest choice is at which point do you shut the 'doors?'  There aren't too many locations that are sizable enough for the encompassed land to feed 10000 soldiers, much less them AND the people working the land, AND be effectively barricaded quickly enough against a tide of shamblors.  Think about it.  It's farmland surround by very steep enough mountains, but remote enough that there isn't millions coming in behind to eat their brains and guts, so they have time to prepare.

The Shenandoah Valley?  It's too open at the mouth and too close to large population centers now filled with zombies.  But the Blue Ridge has an effective natural wall on one side.  Easier than most locations to barricade, the Blue Ridge, assuming you could block the mouth of the valley, but still a very hard issue.

There are some smaller valleys in the Alleghenies that might be easier to shut the bottlenecks of.  I've driven through these on the Pennsylvanian turnpike.  There is a mountain tunnel on the east end of one such valley and narrow enough passes a bit further west.  But is that encompassing enough dirt to grow enough food for the 10000?  How do you barricade the rivers to keep floaters from drifting in and biting folk?  Once you cut the major road arteries, thinking people carrying the infection will improvise and come in through back roads or cross country, adding mouths to feed or eventual zombies to the rear.  Plus the mindless shamblors will eventually find these routes in their wanderings too.

Valleys in California are fertile and large, but you get the same problems with getting effective barriers up fast enough.

Supplying the soldiers, the camp followers and local populace with energy enough to survive winter is hard enough.  After one year the woodlands will be nearly denuded of timber for heat, and the fuel for vehicles will be used up.  The infantry will be afoot.  Hopefully what little liquid fuel will be preserved by a Commander with foresight to know that his assets are worthless and the fuel might be better used on farm equipment.  He'll be relying on windpower or hydroelectric for what little electricity he can get.  And it won't be much.  Not enough to meet normal demands of the populace.

Frankly, there will have to be a die off or a cull.  Of people.  In order to have enough folks inside to erect the right barriers to stop the Zed, you won't have enough logistical support to feed the people long term.  It's a dire calculation.  One the Commander may have to make BEFORE starvation and disease, or before food stocks are overly tapped.

And then where is this Commander?  What has happened to civilization at this point, just inside his enclave?  Has he destroyed what makes us US before he can even push back to reclaim the world FOR civilization?  Hard hard times.  These are nigh insurmountable problems for the Leader of this area, even assuming his charges are all on the same page as him.  And they won't be.  It will be large group of strangers outnumbering the locals and no one will trust anyone else.  10000 soldiers can police such a herd of people, but they are needed on the walls building or defending.  The Commander has to make these tough decisions fast and early.

Assuming he calculated right on the numbers that can be kept alive, and assuming he has railcars of supplies to feed these folks so that they can be drafted or motivate to labor on the 'wall.' (supplies to build an effective wall are also a problem...) then labor in the farm fields Once the wall is up he might be able to intermix his units to keep the civvies off of each other's throats.  And he has to maintain discipline with his soldiers, no easy task.  Soldiers that are cutoff and have lost family outside can be quite despondent about the future and could go mutinous at the drop of a hat.

There are too many variables.  Too many things that can go wrong.  This Commander has to be Superman and a genius to pull it off. 

And THAT's why we don't want a Level 4 outbreak.

But you survived right?  You picked the right defensible place like a light house or oil rig off shore or a high walled abandoned prison.  You found enough supplies, initially, with great luck and got them all into your redoubt.  You hid from the panicky uninfected and you can fend off the mindless undead now that the uninfected are gone.  So?  You and your tiny band can't live there forever.  Even if you turned the yard into a big enough garden or fished extensively.  Without the Commander coming to retake the world for the living you won't last really that long, considering.  And would you want to last that long?  Well, you wouldn't know, having little communication with outside, for security and because there would be few to communicate with.

1 comment:

Bubblehead Les. said...

So if the Level 4 breaks out, you think it's hopeless? Boy, do we need to crack a jug of Corn Likker! One factor you forgot: if it is a World Wide Level 4, many millions will survive, just because of their location. People such as the Iniut, the Aussie Aboriginals, Lapp Landers, etc. are used to living rough and primitive. When the gas runs out, they'll just go back to the old ways, killing Zeds along the way until decomposition takes its toll. Of course, there's no App for that kinda lifestyle, just lots and lots of hard, hard work.