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Farparts

"You're not supporting the warfighter".

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Greetings all,

I work at an Air Force Air Logistics Center and have about 3 years of experience as a contract specialist. I work with many people from different functional areas on a daily basis. Generally speaking, everyone works dilligently toward meeting mission requirements. Anyone in acquisitions knows that delays, setbacks, and unanticipated events present challanges that must be overcome. However, every now and then, someone on the "team" gets frustrated with the process and resorts to what I feel is a personal attack by uttering the phrase "you're not supporting the warfighter".

To me, them's highly offensive fightin' words if they aren't based on solid facts. Generally speaking, the person on the receiving end is being wrongfully accused of not doing their job. I suppose in some instances it's right up there with being accused of being "Un-American", whatever that means. I think it reflects poorly on the accuser, especially when the accuser creates an audience by CC'ing dozen of people in a email or at a meeting. Once such an accusation is made, things get adversarial and ironically the warfighter fades even further into the background while the "opposing sides of the team" duke it out.

Fortunately I have not been the target of such comments but I cringe everytime I hear that phrase and wonder how I would respond to the accuser if I was targeted. I honestly feel that I would lose it if someone ever said that to me. I realize "losing it" wouldn't exactly be the optimum way of dealing with it but I'm at a loss as far as possible responses. On one hand, I wouldn't want to dignify such an insult. On the other, I'd want to make the accuser eat lots and lots of crow.

How do you imagine you would deal with such an unfounded allegation? What are some possible responses?

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Farparts, I feel your pain, as I suspect many of us do.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I worked for a private foreign company where my boss was a retired local Air Force Brigadier General, with USAF training, and many years of contracting experience dealing with original equipment manufacturers, major aerospace companies. In dealing with our internal customers, he had an expression: "We will support you, in the proper way."

In the private company where I work now, thankfully back in the US of A, most of our internal customers and senior executives rely on us contract administrators, managers, and directors to keep them out of trouble with the compliance folks or auditors, colloquially to "keep them out of jail."

Then there is the old saw, "If you don't think you have enough time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you will have time to go back and do it over?".

Hope this gives you some ideas of an approach to people who have no patience with administrative procedures required by law or regulation.

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I would keep a noncondescending friendly look on my face and would not respond. Other people privy to the discussion or to the e-mail traffic are well aware of my diligence, loyalty and mission focus. The foolish person who made the accusation looks plain stupid and unable to handle pressure and will soon lose the respect of his or her audience. A bully is always a bully and accusations are meanless unless backed up by factual information. Don't feed into the hype.

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"Never wrestle with a pig - you'll both get dirty but only the pig will love it."

That being said, in a case where you may have not already done so, I think it's important to explain why you are doing what you are doing, and in the vast majority of cases I've been involved with where someone wanted us to buy something the wrong way, I've been able to find a correct way to accomplish the same - or even better - result.

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Guest Vern Edwards
[E]very now and then, someone on the "team" gets frustrated with the process and resorts to what I feel is a personal attack by uttering the phrase "you're not supporting the warfighter".

Just say, in a dispassionate tone, "You wouldn't know a warfighter if he walked up and pee'd on your shoes." Then go back to doing what you were doing.

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"Never wrestle with a pig - you'll both get dirty but only the pig will love it."
"You wouldn't know a warfighter if he walked up and pee'd on your shoes."

Two good ones I'm going to remember

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I guess I'd be tempted to throw out my credentials as a retired warfighter but my status as a veteran shouldn't make much difference. Being accused of "NSTW" is still insulting to the accused, veteran or not.

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Hey, I feel your pain as well. Only around here the oft used phrase is "work stoppage, work stoppage!" This is often screamed in response to our position that we must follow CICA, unless we cite a legitimate and very specific exception to competition (and "I don't care what congress says 'cuz they are a bunch of morons, I want to do it my way and go straight to company ABC" isn't one of them). Or that we must comply with FAR Part 5.2 public notice requirements. Or that we must follow the laws and regs of the US in general. Some days it is comical. Some days it is incredibly tiring. Most of the time its both.

To speed things up, the customer figured if they stamped everything "urgent", things would get done faster. :rolleyes:

My usual reply goes something like "As a government employee, if you start doing something that is running perfectly and seems remarkably easy, STOP! Think for a minute, because you are probably doing something illegal." :P Nice general rule of thumb. Either that, or I'll just tell them that I'm not following their plan, because I don't look good in an orange jump suit. Helps lighten the mood a little.

What works best I've found is to advise them that we can't reach acquisition goal X by following their Plan A. But we can get their using Plan B. Or Plan B or C, etc.

"If you don't think you have enough time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you will have time to go back and do it over?"

I love this quote, thank you. I believe I will start using it.

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