W. German Troop Chief Defends Weekend Passes

From Reuters

West Germany’s armed forces chief was quoted Wednesday as defending the practice of giving most troops the weekend off, saying he could rule out the possibility of a surprise Soviet attack on a Saturday or Sunday.

In an interview with the magazine Stern, Gen. Wolfgang Altenburg argued that Western intelligence would give ample warning of an impending attack and that the Soviet Bloc would in any case need time to mobilize its forces.

“I already know on Thursday evening if there is going to be a war at the weekend,” Altenburg said.

The majority of West Germany’s 495,000 servicemen work what is effectively a five-day week. Critics of the system argue that in the past, most major wars have begun with surprise invasions launched on a Saturday or Sunday.