Speed Reads

impractical fashion

The Pentagon dropped an extra $28 million to get 'forest' camouflage uniforms for the desert-based Afghan army

A scathing new report suggests the Pentagon shelled out an extra $28 million over the last decade to get uniforms for the Afghan National Army that are patterned in a camouflage suited for the forest, despite the fact that forests "cover only 2.1 percent" of the total land area in Afghanistan.

The pattern was apparently selected by former Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, after he "ran across" the pattern on the internet and "liked what he saw." "He liked the woodland, urban, and temperate patterns," said the report, a 17-page study by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Wardak chose the private, pricey design instead of a free camouflage pattern owned by the U.S. military.

"My concern is what if the minister of defense liked purple, or liked pink?" said John Sopko, the special inspector general. "Are we going to buy pink uniforms for soldiers and not ask questions? That's insane." Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said it was "embarrassing" and "an affront to U.S. taxpayers" that the Pentagon would spend extra "on the wrong pattern just because someone in Afghanistan liked it."

The report estimated that switching from the forest pattern to the camouflage pattern already owned by the U.S. military could save U.S. taxpayers $71 million over the next 10 years.