Pentagon officials said yesterday the two-star general who heads Virginia's National Guard went too far when he told a group of civic leaders the Defense Department plans to mobilize his units for duty in Europe by 1985.
"They [Defense] know they are going to have to call on us," Maj. Gen. William McCaddin told the group. "Between now and 1985 there will be some kind of mobilization and the Guard will be called on."
Pentagon spokesmen said they have no such plans and expressed surprise at the general's comments.
McCaddin told about 70 mayors, councilmen, judges and members of the Virginia General Assembly visiting Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va., on Wednesday that the threat of the Soviet Union to the United States is causing the federal government to take a new look at the National Guard. He later said there is no firm date for mobilization, but in his opinion, "The handwriting is on the wall."
"I will say this," McCaddin said, "if there's anyone in the Guard right now who had not planned on this, then they better get out right now."
McCaddin's remarks were part of Appreciation Day Ceremonies for the Guardsmen at Fort Pickett for two weeks' summer training. Army Secretary John O. Marsh also took part in the ceremonies, but was not present for McCaddin's statement.
"If Marsh had been there, he probably would have shot him," said one Pentagon officer who asked not to be identified.
McCaddin also announced to the civilian guests that the Virginia State Guard, which was disbanded after World War Ii, is being reactivated to serve as the home guard if National Guard units are mobilized and will muster 5,000 members within a year.