US spent $28m on camouflage uniforms for Afghan army that didn’t match terrain, report says

Former US defence secretary Jim Mattis described it as an ‘error’ and a ‘wasteful decision’, government watchdog alleges

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 19 August 2021 20:00
Comments
'Tear gas and beatings' at Kabul airport
Leer en Español

The US military reportedly spent millions of dollars on uniform for the Afghan army that were unusable because the camouflage was not suited to the country’s terrain.

According to a US government watchdog covering the US mission in Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), Washington spent as much as $28 million (£20.5 million) buying uniforms that the Afghan military were not able to use.

The camouflage, as Bloomberg reported on Thursday, did not match the terrain of Afghanistan – but the money was spent on the uniforms anyway.

The Pentagon, in an assessment in June 2017, blamed an Afghan minister of defence for saying the unusable camouflage firms were the better design, saying “he liked the woodland, urban, and temperate patterns”.

It was not clear when the order occurred, and under which Afghan official.

Jim Mattis, the then-US defence secretary, reportedly said in a later review that “rather than minimise this report or excuse wasteful decisions, I expect all DOD organisations to use this error as a catalyst to bring to light wasteful practices”.

The blunder was among dozens of mistakes that were made by US officials during the mission in Afghanistan, which came at a cost of $1 billion (£732 million), but ended more abruptly than the White House had anticipated on Sunday when the Afghan capital was retaken by the Taliban.

Two decades worth of spending on the so-called “forever war”, according to Sigar, also led to the building of a 101 kilometer (63 mile) road that was largely destroyed after it was completed at a cost of $176 million (£128 million).

While much of the US’ spending on the Afghan war would have gone towards American contractors, suppliers and firms, the level of spending and apparent waste in the wake of the country’s withdrawal is likely to come under investigation.

Several Republicans have already criticised the Biden White House for failing to evacuate from Kabul before the Taliban took the city, and for leaving behind billions in dollars worth of US military equipment, which the Pentagon said on Thursday included 2,000 armoured vehicles and 40 aircraft.

The Independent has reached out to the US department of defence for comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in