During World War II, between 1942 and 1945, or approximately 70 years ago, brave Allied aviators flew numerous transport missions over and across the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains -- they called it the "Hump" -- to resupply units of the U.S. Army Air Forces based in China.
These pilots had to wind their way between, around and sometimes over mountains as high as 15,000 feet in two- and four-engine propeller aircraft while encountering violent turbulence, winds up to 200 mph, icing, and using 1940s navigation technology, unreliable charts, and having to fight off occasional Japanese fighter attacks.
But they did it, delivering approximately 650,000 tons of materiel to China during their 42-month history.
Mountains have never kept our military from doing their job.
But here comes pizza CEO and presidential wannabe Herman Cain, on at least two occasions in the year 2011, claiming that the mountains in Iran would "make it very difficult" to launch a military strike against Iran to stop that country from developing a nuclear capability.
During the most recent Republican presidential candidates' debate, Cain also said -- in addition to the mountains problem -- that he would support Israel in an attack on Iran if there was a "credible" plan.
"I would support Israel if it was clear what the mission was," Cain said.
Two comments, Mr. Cain:
First, the Israeli Air Force or its missiles would have no problem in the year 2011 flying around, in-between or over those Iranian mountains that are between 11,000 and 14,000 feet high. (The highest mountain in Iran, Mount Damavand, located in the Alborz Mountains, along the Caspian Sea is approximately 18,000 feet high and easily avoided in any aircraft or missile raid.)
If there is any problem with finding and attacking Iran's nuclear sites, it is not the mountains, but the fact that they are underground, hardened and dispersed. But I believe the Israel Defense Forces have a pretty good idea where they are and what to do about them.
Which brings me to the second point.
Believe me, Mr. Cain, Israel has a "credible plan" to attack the Iranian nuclear sites when and if that becomes necessary. Also, I do not believe that you would have to worry about the mission not "being clear."
You see, Mr. Cain, even in the open literature one can find detailed, credible plans for such a preemptive strike.
For example, already back in March 2009, the reputable Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published in superb detail, accuracy and realism operational "plans" for various Israeli military options to take out the Iranian threat, both by IDF aircraft and by an Israeli ballistic missile attack.
The report, titled "Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Development Facilities," includes detailed mission analyses, mission weapons payloads, strike force requirements, mission route profiles, optimum routes, specific weapons capabilities and effects, and even how the Iranian ground and airborne defenses will react to such attacks.
Also, detailed maps showing locations of Israeli and Iranian nuclear facilities, military and missile bases and sites, and (estimated) numbers and types of weapons--including nuclear--and aircraft and missiles orders of battle -- and even the locations of all those mountains.
There may be many reasons for not launching an attack on Iran, but the "mountains in Iran" is not one of them.
Mr. Cain may want to take a peek at such plans before his next debate. He can read a little bit about them here.