Mattis penned a memo, obtained by the Associated Press, that cited a June report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for Afghanistan, which noted that since 2007, the Department of Defense has spent up to $28 million more than was required on forest green camouflage uniforms not suited for troops in a desert environment.
Dr. Timothy O’Neill, founder of the West Point’ Engineering Psychology program, was quoted in the SIGAR report saying that camouflage patterns must be designed with environment and tactical positions in mind.
"Desert designs don’t work well in woodland areas and woodland patterns perform poorly in the desert," he said. O’Neill helped create the Army Combat Uniform’s design
The report also noted that the Afghan troops’ uniform design was chosen almost on a whim by then-Afghan defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. The uniforms ultimately cost 40 percent more than usual because a proprietary design by a private company was used.
"Cavalier or casually acquiescent decisions to spend taxpayer dollars in an ineffective and wasteful manner are not to recur," Mattis wrote, arguing that such action is representative of a trend in the Pentagon bureaucracy that overlooks and excuses bad spending habits.
"In my view, the key finding of the… report is not just that it exposes waste, or that it captures how funds are diverted away from other mission priorities, but rather that it serves as an example of a complacent mode of thinking," the defense chief wrote. "I expect all [Defense Department] organizations to use this error as a catalyst to bring to light wasteful practices — and take aggressive steps to end waste in our department."
The House Armed Services Committee is set to hold a meeting on the issue on Tuesday.