Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

32. Mefloquine Dispatches: My Letter to Matt Keogh, 4th June 2022

Matt,

Congratulations on your appointment as the Minister of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). What ever your flavour of politics it has always been a tough portfolio. I wish you luck.

Have you heard about mefloquine? If the answer is no, we should chat.

Regards.

Shane Granger

31. Mefloquine Dispatches: Vanuatu, October 1996

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?

 

Random Analytica: Ukraine. Russian Losses (May 2022)

Updated with data to the 31st May 2022.

It’s Victory Day in Moscow this month and Russia is facing serious setbacks in its war against Ukraine. So, for the month of May 2022, I’m tracking Russian combat losses. Specifically, troops, tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), artillery systems, Multi Launch Rocket Systems and other vehicle losses. It should be noted that the only source of data is the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine but some leaked reports from Russian sources have aligned on key dates.

On the final record: The data has stood up all month. The battle of the Donbas continues, and it is a battle of attrition. Must be a fucking hellscape.

Not quite the hellscape in the online domain. Yet, people are starting to lose interest in Ukraine. On that note, I’ve just donated for the first time (online) to an outfit I’m following on Twitter. I’m so committed to this outfit I’m going to continue to donate $10p/m.

As for Random Analytica we will continue to follow this into June via a new post. Online stuff is one thing. My little donation might mean an MRE for the defence of Ukraine, or a few bullets on the front line. Small donations do matter and can make a difference.

At the end of April, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 23,200 troops. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 150 troops today (to 31/05). This would take the total troop losses to 30,500. The 7-day average has steadied to approx. 164 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. Pick up of Russian through late April to mid-May. Reducing in recent days. Steadied in the last week of May.

Side note: Ukrainians started reported in units of 50 on the 9th May (with 150-dead) and the lowest troop loss was on the 25th May (with approx. 100-fatalities).

At the end of April, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 1,008 tanks. A thousand! For context Australia is currently replacing its current M1A1 Abrams with 75x newer model M1A2 SEPv3 tanks. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost nine-tanks today (to 31/05). This would take the total tank losses to 1,358. The 7-day average has reduced and settled under ten, today at 8 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. Peak in early May but has reduced to under 10 in recent days. Counterfactual: Over the last fortnight, less than 10-per day. Running out of tanks since you’re now starting to lose T-62s (another story).

At the end of April, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 2,445 APCs. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 20 APCs today (to 31/05). This would take the total APC losses to 3,302. The 7-day average has declined recently to 15.4 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. I’m staggered by the losses (caveat: if correct). If the numbers are correct perhaps, we should start calling Boyevaya Mashina Pyekhoty or BMPs “Putin Coffins” the same way in WWII Soviet Katyusha rocket launchers were called “Stalin Organs”. A seven-day average of APC losses above 25 has been recorded since the 22nd April. 33-days!

At the end of April, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 436 artillery pieces/systems. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost six artillery systems today (to 31/05). This would take the total artillery system losses to 649. The 7-day average has really increased in recent days to 6.1 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition of artillery systems. A big day of losses reported on the 16th May (22x artillery systems).

On the final record: The battle of Donbas heats up. One to watch.

At the end of April, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 151 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost two MLRS today (to 31/05). This would take the total MLRS losses to 207. The 7-day average ticked up to 0.9 per-day.

Quick data point(s): A big loss on the 3rd May. I’m not sure I’d quantify this as steady attrition (perhaps compared to artillery losses). Especially early April and since the 10th May. That said, 6x losses in the last week during the Donbas fight are interesting and shouldn’t be ignored!

At the end of April, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 1,777 vehicles including 76 fuel trucks. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 17-vehicles today (to 31/05). This would take the total vehicle losses to 2,275. The 7-day average is increasing to 8.9 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. A lot of vehicles lost on the 26th April with 77 reported. An aside but no losses reported 28th May.

Slava Ukraini.

 

I know Veterans do it tough, but I still had capacity to make small donation!

Please consider supporting https://riprawlings.com/ripleys-heroes/. The first one came up during the month & recommended via James Vasquez. I also support the The Kyiv Independent for those who do don’t support direct action.

Random Analytica: Ukraine. Russian Combat Losses estimated at 23,200

I fondly remember having an interesting discussion with another Veteran mate of mine (Vietnam era) who told me that Putin was the smartest card player he had ever seen. As he told me “Putin always seems to be beating guys with a pair of twos. Every time!”.

Hat-tip Bob, you know who you are. They called his bluff.

Russia is losing a lot of troops in Ukraine. Russian won’t discuss numbers but there is some anecdotal data around that suggests the number of Russian dead in the first two months of the war is over 20,000. The Ministry of Defence, Ukraine is estimating that the number of Russian combat losses today hit 23,200. I looked at the attrition rate for Russian combat troops since the Ukraine Military commenced daily updates on the 3rd April 2022.

Short analysis. Terrible strategic tactics by Russia. Another Georgia but on a bigger scale. Terrible tactics by Russia on the ground. Combat dead equals 10% of everyone deployed on 24th February. That means every Russian soldier who deployed basically knows someone who is dead or injured (in just two months of war). Imagine that. The morale on the ground must be absolutely smashed.

I trained for WWIII. Watching it live is surreal. Stay safe.

Slava Ukraini

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30. Mefloquine Dispatches: The Sandline Affair, 21st March 1997

On the 25th Anniversary of the Sandline Affair I thought it might be worthwhile to publish a couple of items I came across during my mefloquine research. The first is an article originally published on the 21st March 1997 by the Sydney Morning Herald. From the Archives: Gunpoint in PNG; mercenaries evacuated. Excerpt:

The Federal Government placed a crack Army battalion on heightened alert in a contingency plan to evacuate 12,000 Australian citizens from Papua New Guinea as rebel troops bundled the remaining mercenaries out of the country.

Late last night, 55 mercenaries were put on a chartered Air Niugini jet to Hong Kong.

The confrontation between PNG’s rebellious defence force and the Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, over his aborted plan to use the mercenaries in the Bougainville conflict moved towards a showdown yesterday.

The sacked military commander, Brigadier-General Jerry Singirok, who still holds the loyalty of most of PNG’s 4,700 troops, rejected the compromise plan by Sir Julius to hold an inquiry into the mercenaries plan, claiming it would be rigged.

Also:

Australian troops have been on alert for the past two days and are ready to move if the crisis worsens. Troops at the First Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville have packed stores, and Hercules transport aircraft at the RAAF base at Richmond have been readied.

It is understood the main purpose of the alert is to have troops ready to assist Australians in PNG if law and order collapses. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned Australians to stay away from PNG’s capital if possible.

The second link is a 20-minute documentary via the ABC and journeyman.tv shot in March 1997 from the ground in PNG with some extraordinary footage. To view: The 10 Days That Shook Papua New Guinea.

970321_Still_ABC_PNGRiots

Synopsis:

This report offers a dramatic overview of the events which triggered Papua New Guinea’s 1997 constitutional crisis. Jerry Singirok, the commander of Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force, was sacked for calling the government out for corruption and for spending over $40m on mercerises for the war in Bougainville. Troops loyal to Singirok revolted and seized control of the main military barracks in the country, creating a huge rift between the government and the army. Meanwhile, protests erupted in the country’s capital Port Moresby, with civilians demanding Prime Minister Julius Chan’s resignation. After MPs voted to keep Chan as Prime Minister, the army joined the protesters in storming the parliament building. Eventually Chan back down and resigned. Filming the chaos first hand, and following a pilot in the military, ABC Australia captures the turmoil that changed the fate of Papua New Guinea, and asks whether Singirok and the army’s actions defended or damaged democracy in the country.

Hotlines

Random Analytica: Australian Covid-19 Hospitalisations exceed 5,000 for the first time

We were told to not look at the daily case numbers but look at hospitalisations and ICU numbers.

I have been tracking Australian hospitalisations now for six weeks. Over the past month hospitalisations have increased from approximately 500 to 5,047 today (17th January 2022). This far exceeds the worst of the Delta outbreaks experienced in 2021.

A quick comparison between 15th December 2021 and today:

  • NSW – 166 on the 15th December 2021, now 2,776
  • Victoria – 365, now 1,229
  • Queensland – 28, now 702
  • South Australia – 2, now 227
  • Western Australia – 0, now one
  • Tasmania – 0, now 21
  • Australian Capital Territory – 3, now 52
  • Northern Territory – 0, now 39
  • Total – 564 on the 15th December, now 5,047

Anecdotally I am seeing a lot of evidence that State based health systems are struggling with the increased case-loads and the specific needs that Covid-19 patients require (i.e. separating wards as an example).

Omicron continues to surprise.

Random Analytica: Australian Covid-19 Hospitalisations (Dec-21 – Jan 22)

I have been tracking NSW hospitalisations and ICU numbers for the past week and made the realisation that other states and territories are seeing an increase in hospitalisations as well.

From the chart you can see the massive increase in hospitalisations in NSW. Using the 15th December 2021 (the date NSW opened up again for eight days) as a baseline you can see the almost 5-fold increase in hospitalisations across the board, with the exception of WA which remains largely Covid-19 free. The comparisons:

  • NSW – 166 on the 15th December 2021, now 1,491
  • Victoria – 365, now 591
  • Queensland – 28, now 265
  • South Australia – 2, now 125
  • Western Australia – 0, continuing zero
  • Tasmania – 0, now 5
  • Australian Capital Territory – 3, now 16
  • Northern Territory – 0, now 21
  • Total – 564 on the 15th December, now 2,514

Omicron continues to surprise.

Random Analytica: NSW Covid-19 Hospitalisations & ICU (Dec-21)

January 2022 is going to be interesting.

I have been hearing a lot how Omicron is less severe and that we should not concentrate on the cases per day but on hospitalisations, ICU and ventilator numbers. Here is a look at NSW hospitalisations and ICU numbers for December 2021. I chose NSW because they opened the hardest and fastest on the 15th December. Since opening the hospitalisations have increased five times and the ICU numbers almost tripled. Effectively they are the canary in the mine.

During every stage of this Pandemic we have underestimated Covid-19 and we have definitely underestimated this new variant.

Omicron is going to surprise us again.

29. Mefloquine Dispatches: Patricia Fernandez de Viana, 10th December 2021

On the final day of Hearing Block 1 for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (DVSRC) held in Brisbane in December 2021, mother of James, Patricia Fernandez de Viana gave testimony which included a linkage to the use of anti-malarials. Via the AAP and The Guardian. Mother tells veteran suicide inquiry ADF failed to support family after son’s death. Excerpt:

Fernandez de Viana, a wound care specialist nurse, said she discovered the welter of medications her son was on when he died, including experimental treatments for malaria: “I was horrified, absolutely horrified.”

More to follow…

28. Mefloquine Dispatches: 3573 – Lambie, Senator Jacqui, 23rd April 2021

I was quite unwell when this came out and completely missed it. That said the questions are good but they don’t go far enough. They focus on the initial East Timor deployments (where mefloquine was used but Tafenoquine was the preferred option). Also, no mention of previous deployments where mefloquine was used for deployments from Rwanda to PNG. Certainly no mention of the 100-odd men who received mefloquine as part of the Sandline Affair deployment as the anti-malarial was not detailed on our medical records.

Via the Parlwork website. 3573 – Lambie, Senator Jacqui to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Her questions:

SENATOR LAMBIE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 April 2021:

1. How many Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments were later deployed to do war service in the Middle East?

2. How many ADF personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments went on to serve in the Middle East:

in the Special Air Service;

as commandos; and

in Royal Australian Regiments.

3. What work has been done, and is being done, to track the effects of the mefloquine trials on soldiers’ response to trauma, is data on this being monitored.

4. How many soldiers who were prescribed mefloquine during deployment to Timor-Leste were later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

5. How many soldiers who were prescribed mefloquine during deployment to Timor-Leste later attempted suicide or committed suicide.

In response dated the 21st May 2021 via the Parlwork website. As above. The response:

1. The number of ADF personnel previously reported as using mefloquine was determined based on trial nominal roles and pharmacy dispensing records. Determining those personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments, and who subsequently deployed to the Middle East, would require an intensive process of matching health datasets with data in personnel service record systems, including physical records going back a number of decades. Significant resources and time would be required to consolidate and interpret this data. Defence health resources are fully engaged supporting the Defence response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to be reallocated to producing the requested data.

2. The answer provided to Question 1 also applies to this question.

3. No work has been undertaken, or is being undertaken, to track the effects of the mefloquine trials on ADF personnel response to trauma. The Senate Inquiry in 2018 into ADF use of mefloquine and tafenoquine, recommended against such activities.

4. As at 1 May 2021, Defence is aware of 99 ADF members who were prescribed mefloquine in Timor-Leste, being later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst those prescribed mefloquine is similar to those who did not take mefloquine.

5. Of the ADF members who were prescribed mefloquine during their deployment to Timor-Leste, Defence is aware of seven members who have died by suicide.