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Ooooh, look at the pretty colours…

June 21, 2017

Summary: Billions of dollars are spent in Afghanistan, much of it with little oversight or even sensible thinking…

The US government’s Special Inspectorate General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is dogged and relentless in its tracking down of waste, corruption and poor procurement.  If you want a soul-destroying snapshot of how money is wasted in Afghanistan, just look at the summary here of how the type of camouflage uniforms for the Afghan army were decided.  But first let me summarise the summary:

“…neither DOD nor the Afghan government knows whether the ANA uniform is appropriate to the Afghan environment, or whether it actually hinders their operations by providing a more clearly visible target to the enemy.”

Today, SIGAR released a Special Projects Report on DOD’s procurement of Afghan National Army (ANA) uniforms.

Key Points:

— DOD’s decision to procure ANA uniforms using a proprietary camouflage pattern was not based on an evaluation of its appropriateness for the Afghan environment.

— Procurement costs to the U.S. government were 40–43 percent than similar non-proprietary patterned uniforms used by the Afghan National Police (ANP), which potentially added between $26.65 million and $28.23 million to the costs of the ANA uniform procurements since 2008.

— In 2007, responsible DOD officials stated that they “ran across [HyperStealth’s] web site and the Minister [then Minister of Defense Wardak] liked what he saw. He liked the woodland, urban, and temperate patterns.”

— CSTC-A, in consultation with the Afghan MOD, decided to adopt the camouflage pattern containing a “forest” color scheme for ANA uniforms, despite the fact that forests cover only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan’s total land area.

— Determining the effectiveness of a uniform pattern for a specific environment requires formal testing and evaluation.

— According to a technical paper prepared for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, the spatial characteristics and color palette of a camouflage pattern should be tailored to the specific environment. Matching a camouflage pattern “with background texture, color, and contrast is essential to all levels of visual processing.”

CSTC-A, however, made the decision to procure 1,364,602 ANA uniforms and 88,010 extra pairs of pants —totaling approximately $94 million—using HyperStealth’s Spec4ce Forest camouflage pattern without conducting any formal testing or evaluation.

— As a result, neither DOD nor the Afghan government knows whether the ANA uniform is appropriate to the Afghan environment, or whether it actually hinders their operations by providing a more clearly visible target to the enemy.

— CSTC-A recommended a sole-source award to HypersStealth but the DOD contracting office believed that, because there were so many available camouflage patterns in the world, a sole-source award would be hard to justify.

— Instead of issuing a sole-source award, DOD issued a local acquisition solicitation that included the requirement that the uniforms use HyperStealth’s proprietary Spec4ce Forest camouflage pattern.

— CSTC-A initially estimated that the new ANA uniform would cost $25–$30 per set. The actual cost ranged from $45.42–$80.39 per set.

— Our analysis found that changing the ANA uniform to a non-proprietary camouflage pattern could save U.S. taxpayers between $68.61 million and $72.21 million over the next 10 years.

— SIGAR suggests that DOD conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the current ANA uniform specification to determine whether there is a more effective alternative, considering both operational environment and cost, available.

So not only incompetence – the Minister likes forest rather than desert tones.  But this costly decision might even be costing the lives of Afghan soldiers.

Image result for Afghanistan ANA and british soldiers helmand

Which is the easier target?

 

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