U.S. News

Factbox: Challenges of mountain warfare in Pakistan

Pakistan's army, under U.S. pressure to enter the militant bastion of North Waziristan, says it will do so but in its own time and when adequate resources are available.

At a conference in Jordan on special operations forces, Major General Farrukh Bashir, commander of the Pakistani military's Special Services Group, gave a presentation on mountain warfare outlining the obstacles to fighting in the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges along Pakistan's borders.

Following is a selection of the challenges, according to Bashir:

* Artillery fire is less effective because of the contours of the land

* Attack options are predictable

* Use of helicopters gives away your intentions

* Land mines are not effective because they are displaced by earth tremors or melting snow

* Delays in evacuation of casualties

* Defensive positions can be swept away by avalanches

* Resupply and reinforcement in the heat of battle are extremely difficult

* Difficult to achieve surprise.

* Close-quarter battle is required

* Re-stocking is done by mules

* Troops' acclimatization is very important, as is physical fitness and endurance

* Illness caused by altitude sicknesses

* Maps and aerial images tend to be deceptive

* Distance is measured in time, not in space, due to the terrain

* An invisible and faceless enemy. People met without incident in daytime may "take up arms and attack" at night

* Night landing by helicopters is very difficult in forested mountains or at high altitude

*Vehicle mobility restricted to roads

* Large numbers of troops required to hold cleared areas.

* Operations require intensive focus on logistics.