Pentagon Blew $28M on Iffy Afghan Army Uniforms

Watchdog: US shelled out extra for 'forest' camo in land with almost no forest
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2017 1:02 PM CDT
Pentagon Blew $28M on Iffy Afghan Army Uniforms
Afghan National Army troops in "woodland" uniforms purchased by the Pentagon   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Just one week after defense chief James Mattis told a Senate panel the US is "not winning in Afghanistan," a new report reveals that the US wasted $28 million on the wrong kind of uniforms for Afghan army soldiers. In 2007, the Pentagon allowed the Afghan defense minister to pick expensive woodland-camouflage patterns from a private company rather than free camouflage schemes from the government, reports USA Today. This despite the fact that forest makes up only 2.1% of Afghanistan's land area. The revelation is in a newly released report from Afghan special inspector general John Sopko. “This is just simply stupid on its face," he tells the newspaper. "If he thought pink or chartreuse was it, would we have done that?”

A decade ago, US military consultants decided the Afghan army needed a more distinct uniform, in part to make it harder for the Taliban to stage attacks in counterfeit uniforms, reports the Military Times. The consultants showed then-Afghan defense chief Abdul Rahim Wardak pictures of "forest" uniforms they found on the internet, and he "liked what he saw," according to the report. The Pentagon bought more than 1.3 million of the uniforms and 88,000 extra pairs of pants “without conducting any formal testing to determine the pattern's effectiveness for use in Afghanistan.” The report comes at a sensitive time: Afghan troops are in the midst of a multi-front conflict with both the Taliban and an ISIS offshoot, and earlier this month President Trump gave Mattis the authority to increase troop levels. (More Afghanistan stories.)

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