NASA Administrator Charles Bolden urged workers at the agency’s Johnson Space Center, many of whom are apprehensive about proposed changes to the U.S. human spaceflight program, to keep their doubts to themselves.

“For you to go to members of Congress, the media and the American public with contradictory information about the road ahead and the need to move on beyond the Constellation Program is not helpful and detracts from our ability to accelerate the needed development programs and innovative technologies that will enable us to reach our deep space goals,” Bolden said during an April 28 all-hands meeting at the Houston-based manned spaceflight center, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released by NASA.

During apparently unscripted remarks that followed, Bolden related a graphic anecdote about how a group of U.S. Marines won the loyalty of an Afghan tribal leader last year by going beyond the call of duty to extract a dead calf from a prized camel’s womb.

“We do the same thing,” Bolden told the Johnson audience, according to a transcript obtained by Space News. “We’ve got some stillborn calves around, and we have got to figure out ways to help each other bring them back to life.

“We have some contractor partners who are really hurting, but they understand that’s their life, and we’ve got to help them in any way we can. But we’ve got to get on with what we know we need to do because the longer we argue about the road ahead when we’ve been told what the road ahead is and we’ve been asked to put the details onto it, then the longer it’s going to take us to get to where we know where we want to go.”