The U.S. military spent $28 million on ineffective camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Security Forces, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction noted in a Tuesday report.
The U.S. reportedly purchased the uniforms in consultation with the Afghan National Security Forces who requested “forrest”camouflage despite the fact that the country is only 2.1% of the country’s total land area. “Neither DOD nor the Afghan government could demonstrate the appropriateness of the ANA uniform for the Afghan environment, or show that the new camouflage pattern did not hinder ANA operations by providing a more clearly visible target to the enemy,” the new report found.
“DOD’s lack of due diligence and its decision to purchase ANA uniforms using a proprietary camouflage pattern appear to have resulted in unit costs that are significantly higher than those for similar non-proprietary camouflaged uniforms, potentially costing the U.S. taxpayers an additional $26.65 million–$28.23 million since 2008,” the report concludes.
SIGAR head John Sopko lamented the decision, saying it had far-reaching ramifications in an interview with USA Today. “We wasted $28 million of taxpayers’ money in the name of fashion, because the defense minister thought that that pattern was pretty. So if he thought pink or chartreuse was it, would we have done that?” he declared.
The report’s release comes as the Trump administration is considering sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan, all but ensuring an enduring U.S. presence. This presence would likely continue existing U.S. policy of training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Afghans, however, have suffered historic battlefield casualties and are pervasively corrupt.
SIGAR noted in late April that the security force’s casualties continue to be “shockingly high.” The report stated that 807 Afghan troops were killed in the first six weeks of 2017 and nearly 35 percent of the force chooses not to re-enlist each year.
The report established that Afghan forces face “many problems: unsustainable casualties, temporary losses of provincial and district centers, weakness in logistics and other functions, illiteracy in the ranks, often corrupt or ineffective leadership, and over-reliance on highly trained special forces for routine missions.”
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