Abdul Rahim Wardak, then the minister of defense, discovered the camouflage pattern the Pentagon eventually purchased while browsing uniform styles online, according to unnamed Defense Department officials cited in the report.
The forest pattern he settled on was created and owned by HyperStealth Biotechnology Corporation, a Canadian company that has designed camouflage for the militaries of Jordan, Chile and the United Arab Emirates.
The new uniforms also included expensive details like replacing buttons with zippers.
“It’s the totally wrong pattern for a country like Afghanistan. We are in Afghanistan; 98 percent of it is desert,” Mr. Sopko said. “So you would assume you want something that blended with the desert.”
The inspector general’s report found that the Pentagon could have chosen from a number of similar patterns that it owned and were not in use by American forces.
Afghan special forces and several national police units wear uniforms with a pattern owned by the Department of Defense, according to the report.
Altering the army’s uniforms could save the United States between $68.6 million and $72.2 million over the next 10 years, the report said.
Mr. Sopko said the uniforms were one of many needless costs borne by American taxpayers in Afghanistan.
“This is not a one-off. This is not unique,” Mr. Sopko said. “We have too many contracts like this in Afghanistan, where people make stupid decisions, and people are not held accountable and the taxpayer pays.”
The Pentagon did not rebut the findings of the report and said it would conduct a review to find a “more effective alternative” to the current uniforms.
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