The Pentagon wasted as much as $28 million over the last decade on camouflage uniforms for Afghan soldiers despite the fact forests make up only a small fraction of the country’s landscape, according to a report released Wednesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The findings comes a decade after the Department of Defense moved to procure new uniforms for Afghanistan’s National Army as part of U.S. efforts to bolster the country’s capacity to provide its own security. The uniforms, which cost approximately $93 million, were made using a “forest” pattern from a company called HyperStealth—one which the report says was chosen over other free camouflage patterns owned by the U.S. government after Afghanistan’s defense minister at the time, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, “liked what he saw” on the company’s website.
This decision was problematic. As SIGAR noted in its report, the “forest” color was chosen “despite the fact that forests cover only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan’s total land area.” This didn’t go unnoticed by HyperStealth, which acknowledged in a February 2010 press release that the forest design may seem an “odd choice” for Afghanistan.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, called the move “insane.”