31. Mefloquine Dispatches: Vanuatu, October 1996

by Shane Granger

A few months before Operation Baritone, another operation led by the online parachute company from 3 RAR started to pre-deploy for Vanuatu (October 1996). The U.S Department of State noted in its Human Rights report on the 30th January 1997 that:

“The civilian authorities normally control the small police and paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force, however, a brief mutiny in October by elements of the VMF over pay issues shook the principle of civilian control. The mutiny was resolved without bloodshed.”

Although the mission got scrubbed, here is a text from a Digger who was exposed to a Mefloquine Loading dose while pre-deploying (shared with permission). It should be noted they have no confidence in the DVA and the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides. Excerpt:

Hi Shane. It’s * here. Love to catch up cause (sic) I got no idea what’s happening and am generally confused. I was contacted out of the blue by someone at dva (sic). This was 3 years ago. They said it was some mefloquine program and wanted to speak to me about my exposure to mefloquine. Told him I had no idea what he was talking about. But yes had taken malaria medication in 3 RAR and * in late 90’s. He told me he would email me. Following day a secure encrypted email show up. I ring him, he laughs, says oops and that he will resend it and just to delete it. Of course I don’t. But nothing shows up. I ring dva (sic). They keep fobbing me off saying someone from the mefloquine team will call me back. Never happened. I got shits and stopped calling. 6 months later I ring up to be told it’s an inquiry at the senate and I will need to lodge a claim. Advocates can’t tell me nothing till a month ago when advocate tells me to put in claim for mefloquine acquired anxiety disorder. I mention it to *, they say they saw some 60 mins show about it and was going to ring and ask me if I’d been on it cause of some of the shit I through in * then after discharge in *. So that’s me. I don’t really know more than that

This is just one example. The Australian Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs have legitimate questions to answer. There are more missions along with evidence of mefloquine exposure (often undocumented) throughout the 1990s. From Operation Solace (1992-93) onwards.

When will the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission start talking about mefloquine & tafenoquine?