FRANKFURT — Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara said here Wednesday his whirlwind check on U.S. "combat readiness of tactical nuclear and conventional forces" in West Germany was promoted by President Kennedy's request for standby authority to call up 150,000 reservists,
"In support of the President's request last week to call up 150,000 reserves if their need becomes critical, I testified before Congress that the crisis Americans face today is the most serious since the Korean War," McNamara said.
"It's only fitting under these conditions that we check on the combat readiness of our tactical nuclear and conventional forces," he told newsmen at Rhine-Main Air Base.
McNamara, who arrived from Washington aboard a MATS C135 jet transport, was accompanied by Paul H. Nitze, under secretary of defense for international security affairs; Charles J, Hitch, assistant defense secretary (comptroller); Arthur G. Sylvester, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs; Gen Paul D. Adams, commander-in-chief, U.S. Strike Comd, and six other military assistants. All were wearing Army field clothes when they left the plane.
The group was met by Gen John P. McConnell, EUCOM deputy commander-in-chief; Gen Paul L. Freeman Jr., USAREUR commander-in-chief; and Lt Gen C. H. Bonesteel III, acting 7th Army commander.
The group immediately flew by helicopter to inspect units of the 14th Cav Regt where Lt Gen John H, Michaelis, V Corps CG, joined McNamara at the first stop on the 48-hour inspection of U.S. troops and airmen.
Although McNamara has met with NATO leaders in Paris and London on previous overseas trips, this was the first visit to American combat forces in West Germany.
Later Wednesday, McNamara toured elements of the 3rd Armd Div, spending the night with tankers in the field.
He will be joined Thursday by Gen Truman H. Landon, USAFE commander-in-chief.
At Rhine-Main, McNamara said he probably would not meet with West German Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss as earlier reported, but expects to see Deputy Defense Minister Volkmar Hopf.
Other bases on the party's slate Thursday after inspection of additional USAREUR troops are U.S. Air Force tactical units at Hahn, Sembach and Ramstein air bases.
McNamara is scheduled to return to the United States by air from Ramstein late Thursday night.