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Thread: Following Illegal Orders?

  1. #11
    Senior Member AJBIGJ's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalwart View Post
    Outside of being ordered to do something that would be a crime, my best advice would be if someone is being ordered to disobey a regulation or instruction and they have voiced disagreement with the direction, to write a memorandum for the record and deliver it to the chain of command or the JAG.

    As far as delaying following the order, that is a judgment call based on the situation. Is danger to life an issue, damage to property etc.? I have seen people purposely blow off a stupid order, and the consensus was that the order was stupid but that the individual in question didn't have the authority to blow it off either. Unlike the typical "just follow orders" mentality, decentralized decision making requires people in more junior positions to observe, decide and act. I was far from being trained to be an automaton, but also had to be very aware of what was in my authority to decide and what was not.



    That is not correct, you can absolutely be prosecuted for disobeying a verbal order -- the catch is proving the order was given which usually involves witnesses.

    --

    You do have a good point that people should be able to trust that the orders they are given are legal. Today I think I have seen some people who disagree with a policy or standard and then attempt to 'barracks lawyer' a way around the issues rather than (if there really is a problem with the system) trying to earnestly fix the problem.
    I think you're probably right in this regard, and makes more sense, it would be sort of "he said/she said" about how the order was worded if it wasn't in writing and there were no witnesses to observe it.
    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." ~ Thomas Jefferson

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  2. #12
    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    Quote Originally Posted by AJBIGJ View Post
    I think you're probably right in this regard, and makes more sense, it would be sort of "he said/she said" about how the order was worded if it wasn't in writing and there were no witnesses to observe it.
    Yeah, and I have seen a couple people try and fail to plead ignorance on how they understood or interpreted something (one case was almost comical -- the defense would have been that this person was practically mentally incapable).

    He said / she said is pretty much what it comes down to with no witnesses ... which can work out good and bad.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    @Stalwart

    I've done the memoranda for record in a disagreement with a civilian boss and it worked wonders. It wasn't an issue of an illegal order, but more a question of efficiency. I found that writing my concerns down got more consideration than expressing them vocally. Plus, it had the added benefit of putting a paper trail on the matter that led right back to him.

    It pissed my boss of initially, but he got over it.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    I found that writing my concerns down got more consideration than expressing them vocally. Plus, it had the added benefit of putting a paper trail on the matter that led right back to him.
    I think a good part of the Memorandum for the Record as well is the removal of emotion from the discussion (if written well.) Verbally, people tend to get emotional in disagreements, in professional writing we tend to tone it down so the facts of the matter stand on their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    It pissed my boss of initially, but he got over it.
    A professional will get over it and won't take a disagreement personally (unless the issue is made personal.)

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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    My work center faced this exact issue last year. To save costs, we were told that when we go TDY to our "additional duty location" were ordered to stay somewhere that is against AF and DoD regs (an MOD fire house). We quoted AFIs stating exactly how this is illegal and we quote DoD/JFTR. When we showed it to our chain, it led nowhere. Our CC told us "Deal with it." The more we showed how illegal it was, how it demoralized us, and how it affected the mission, the more the chain pushed back and basically told us to "drop it." When the new CC arrived, that practice changed immediately.

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    Senior Member technomage1's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkhunter View Post
    My work center faced this exact issue last year. To save costs, we were told that when we go TDY to our "additional duty location" were ordered to stay somewhere that is against AF and DoD regs (an MOD fire house). We quoted AFIs stating exactly how this is illegal and we quote DoD/JFTR. When we showed it to our chain, it led nowhere. Our CC told us "Deal with it." The more we showed how illegal it was, how it demoralized us, and how it affected the mission, the more the chain pushed back and basically told us to "drop it." When the new CC arrived, that practice changed immediately.
    Now this is one of the issues where you'd have been well within your rights to go to the wing king or the IG. You found the references, showed it to the chain and they ignored you.

    People like that shouldn't be in command of a clown car let alone a squadron. They're the type that go on to be the ones hiding war crimes or threatening subordinates or abusing travel funds.
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    Senior Member LogDog's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    The idea that an order is legal only if it is in writing is a myth. If you suspect an order is illegal you should inform the person giving the order why you think it is wrong. If they persist in expecting you to carry it out then you can tactfully inform them you'll be meeting with the commander or IG to inform them of the situation. In this case, you better have your facts straight and be ready to defend them because if you're wrong then the next time it happens they won't take you serious if it were to happen again.

    As others have said, it's best to get someone else to witness the illegal order.

  8. #18
    Senior Member LogDog's Avatar
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    Re: Following Illegal Orders?

    The idea that an order is legal only if it is in writing is a myth. If you suspect an order is illegal you should inform the person giving the order why you think it is wrong. If they persist in expecting you to carry it out then you can tactfully inform them you'll be meeting with the commander or IG to inform them of the situation. In this case, you better have your facts straight and be ready to defend them because if you're wrong then the next time it happens they won't take you serious.

    As others have said, it's best to get someone else to witness the illegal order.

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