TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -According to a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report from last month, the Pentagon started purchasing the forest-patterned uniforms in 2007, following the approval of a former Afghan defense minister who had saw them online and preferred to the free ones provided by the US military.
It turned out later on that the pricey camouflage cannot be used in most parts of Afghanistan, a country that is just 2 percent woodland.
Mattis addressed the issue in a July 21 memo released on Monday, blasting the “cavalier” spending.
“Buying uniforms for our Afghan partners, and doing so in a way that may have wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars over a 10-year period, must not be seen as inconsequential in the grand scheme of the Department's responsibilities and budget,” Mattis wrote in the memo.
“Cavalier or casually acquiescent decisions to spend taxpayer dollars in an ineffective and wasteful manner are not to recur,” he added.
The secretary warned that the report should prevent future wasteful spending.
“Rather than minimize this report or excuse wasteful decisions, I expect all DoD organizations to use this error as a catalyst to bring to light wasteful practices,” he wrote.
Lawmakers weigh in
The report also drew backlash from some Congress members, with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley calling it “embarrassing and an affront to US taxpayers.”
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill asked the Pentagon for explanations by August.
The US House Armed Services Committee was slated to address the report on Tuesday, during a hearing with Inspector General John Sopko.
When asked by The USA Today about the issue, Sopko said the decision to buy the uniforms “was stupid on its face.”
“My concern is what if the minister of defense liked purple, or liked pink?” he said. “Are we going to buy pink uniforms for soldiers and not ask questions? That’s insane.”