From my upcoming review of Clint Eastwood's new WWII movie in The American Conservative:
With planning underway for aerial attacks on Iran's dug-in nuclear facilities, it's worth recalling Iwo Jima, which "underwent the most prolonged and also the most disappointing air bombing and naval bombardment of any Pacific Island," according to Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. The Japanese commander hollowed out the soft lava of that volcanic island, allowing his 22,000 troops to survive seven months of almost daily American air raids. Hoping to show Washington that an invasion of Japan would be too bloody, they killed nearly 7,000 American attackers and wounded 21,000 more in a five week-long battle in which all but 216 defenders died.
American commanders in the Pacific normally expended their men's lives economically, preferring to use instead our advantage in maneuver and materiel. When out-thought at Iwo Jima by General Kuribayashi, however, they were rescued by the extraordinary morale of their Marines.