Considerations For Planning

Mountain weather can be either a dangerous obstacle to operations or a valuable aid, depending on how well it is understood and to what extent advantage is taken of its peculiar characteristics.

a. Weather often determines the success or failure of a mission since it is highly changeable. Military operations plans must be flexible, especially in planning airmobile and airborne operations. The weather must be anticipated to allow enough time for planning so that the leaders of subordinate units can use their initiative in turning an important weather factor in their favor. The clouds that often cover the tops of mountains and the fogs that cover valleys are an excellent means of concealing movements that normally are made during darkness or in smoke. Limited visibility can be used as a combat multiplier.

b. The safety or danger of almost all high mountain regions, especially in winter, depends upon a change of a few degrees of temperature above or below the freezing point. Ease and speed of travel depend mainly on the weather. Terrain that can be crossed swiftly and safely one day may become impassable or highly dangerous the next due to snowfall, rainfall, or a rise in temperature. The reverse can happen just as quickly. The prevalence of avalanches depends on terrain, snow conditions, and weather factors.

c. Some mountains, such as those found in desert regions, are dry and barren with temperatures ranging from extreme heat in the summer to extreme cold in the winter. In tropical regions, lush jungles with heavy seasonal rains and little temperature variation often cover mountains. High rocky crags with glaciated peaks can be found in mountain ranges at most latitudes along the western portion of the Americas and Asia.

d. Severe weather may decrease morale and increase basic survival problems. These problems can be minimized when men have been trained to accept the weather by being self-sufficient. Mountain soldiers properly equipped and trained can use the weather to their advantage in combat operations.

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