Random Analytica

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

Tag: War

Mefloquine Dispatches: Peacetime in PNG (11th January 2023)

Reflecting the frustration at the treatment of veterans exposed to mefloquine my psychologist reached out to Richard Marles, the recently appointed Minister for Defence and Deputy PM and asked a question about Operation Baritone (March 1997).

The member of Richard Marles staff who responded might be unaware of the Company Group (3/97) that redeployed from Shoalwater Bay to Townsville at short notice. He wouldn’t know about the late-night review of your will and the death photo taken in the old hospital block. Nor blood pressure checks and the RMO signing off on your trip to war on the soldiers back in front of you. Picking up your seven magazines. Loading a pouch full of M26s. Inoculations in front of the Hercules. Lariam tablets being passed man-to-man. Briefings which talk about the rioting, the PNGDF in mutiny, South African mercenaries, Rascals, and the possibility of heavy casualties. The smell of excitement and fear as the clock moves from 24hrs Notice-To-Move (NTM) to 12hrs NTM. It would have been better than the Wild Bunch.

This message shouldn’t be coming from me. You should have been contacted as part of the Use of the Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force investigation in 2018. In fact, members from 3 RAR were initially contacted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in relation to a 1996 deployment to Vanuatu. It was quickly shut down and muffled.

If you are reading the bad news here, I’m sorry if you are getting the message from me.

The Butchers Bill – Company Group 3/97

If you redeployed with the Company Group from Shoalwater Bay at the end of Exercise Tasman Thrust 97 and ended up waiting for the Hercules at Garbutt while we were staging, then you were given a Mefloquine Loading Dose (MLD). Don’t bother checking your medical records as it wasn’t written down. I had to prove my exposure via Red Cross records (I basically caught a lucky break).

Here is how you can check if you were given a Mefloquine Loading Dose as part of Company Group 3/97. If you got typhoid on the 22nd of March 1997 then you got an MLD as well. I distinctly remember getting 3-4 injections behind those planes. Check your vaccination records. Here is a personal example.

Battalion Group – 1 RAR

I was at Garbutt and had no visibility of this. However, the Australian Government decided to activate the Battalion Group. Once activated it is very likely the RMOs started the vaccination process including anti-malarial treatments. I’d be checking your medical records as well.

For confirmation here is Tony Wright’s 20th anniversary write up of the Sandline Affair. Via the Sydney Morning Herald (circa 2019). 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.

A Battalion Group is not just made up of Grunts. Things were moving very quickly. Some thoughts. Signals and medics were on the first two planes (so you would also be exposed). Airforce personnel assigned would all be exposed. Possibly a 3 RAR company? Certainly SF. Apparently four naval ships were assigned to the initial deployment. If in doubt, double check your medical records.

To the Lost.

Random Analytica: Russian Troop Losses in Ukraine (to 8th December 2022)

So, the long winter begins.

 

Quieter? The Ukrainians claimed a further 340 Russian troops killed in the past 24-hours. After the Battle of Kherson there was a steep decline in losses, but this seems to have picked up with the 7-day average sitting above 500 for the past eight straight days. At this rate the Russians will have 100,000 dead a few days before Christmas?

Slava Ukraini.

Random Analytica: Russian Cruise Missiles Destroyed by Ukraine (to 28th November 2022)

The Kyiv Independent was reporting another 75 cruise missiles shot down yesterday (which was a huge number). Anyway, it was a typo, but it got me looking at the amount of cruise missiles which Ukraine have claimed they have shot down.

Couple of things jump out at me.

  • Since the 11th of October the Ukrainians have destroyed 282/531 missiles, or approx. 53% of the total in just 49-days.
  • The ‘Big-Day’ was the 16th of November when 75 cruise missiles were destroyed, or approx. 14% in one day.
  • The average has escalated from roughly one shoot down per day to two per day over the course of recent months. The Russians are firing more missiles and the Ukrainians are shooting more down.

Tough days.

Slava Ukraini.

Random Analytica: Russian Troop Losses in Ukraine (to 23rd November 2022)

The Battle of Kherson is over. The Russians are bombarding their former city. Looks like it’s going to be a long winter of attrition.

According to the Ukrainians the Russians lost 410-troops today. During the height of the Battle of Kherson as Russian troops abandoned their positions the 7-day average hit a high of 704.3. That number has almost halved and today was 385.7.

A very tough month for Russian Defence Forces.

Slava Ukraini.

Random Analytica: Ukraine. Russian APC Losses hit 5,000 (to 4th October 2022)

If you want to understand how Russia are not just losing the war but might collapse as a society, consider this. Since the start of the war against Ukraine they have lost 5,000 armoured personnel carriers. 5,000!

 

When I saw Kyiv Independent post the number today I thought straight away, do they correlate with the Russian troop losses (short answer – they don’t). Seems like Russia is running out of APC/APVs for the troops. The losses around the Battle of Kyiv and then into late April/May must have smashed Russian reserves.

7-day average of APC losses sits at 19.6. They still have equipment. The Ukrainians are still blowing it up. The Russians will run out.

Slava Ukraini.

Random Analytica: Ukraine. Russian Troop Losses (to 8th September 2022)

The Russians didn’t just have a bad day. They are having a series of bad days. Today was just the worst.

According to the Ukrainians the Russians lost 640-troops today. If correct it would be the worst day of losses for the Russians since early April and the most significant since the Battle for Kyiv.

It should also be noted that the 7-day average of losses has shot up past 400-per day for the first time and today sits at 414.3.

Slava Ukraini.

Random Analytica: Ukraine. Russian Losses (June 2022)

Updated with data to the 21st June 2022.

The War in Ukraine enters its 100th day in June 2022. The Battle for the Donbas grinds on extracting a heavy toll on both countries. Ukraine still holds out against the Russian invaders. The world grows weary. Random Analytics does not.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 30,500 troops. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 300 troops today (to 21/06). This would take the total troop losses to 34,100. The 7-day average has ticked up in recent days to approx. 228 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition and a pickup, especially in the last 10-days.

Side note: Ukrainians started reported in units of 10 on the 7th June (with 110-dead). Prior to that it was in units of 50.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 1,358 tanks. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 19 tanks today (to 21/06). This would take the total tank losses to 1,496. The 7-day average has ticked up to 8.9 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. Off big highs.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 3,302 Armoured Personnel Carriers (or APC/APVs). The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost 18 APCs today (to 21/06). This would take the total APC losses to 3,606. The 7-day average has been reasonably steady, sitting at 14.7 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. Steadied against drops in troop & tank losses.

Side note: Big day on 1st June with 41 reported losses?

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 649 artillery systems. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost three artillery systems today (to 21/06). This would take the total artillery losses to 752. The 7-day average was 4.4 per-day.

Quick data point(s): I expect the Battle of the Donbas will be a battle of artillery systems as well as men. Such is the pickup at the start of June.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 207 MLRS systems. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost one MLRS systems today (to 21/06). The 7-day average is 1.4 per day.

Quick data point(s): The Battle of the Donbas is all about artillery. Nine MLRS systems lost on the 10th June. Would equate to the second worst day for Russia.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 2,275 vehicles which we can describe as undesignated (such as fuel trucks or logistical vehicles). The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost ten vehicles today (to 21/06). This would take the total vehicle losses to 2,537. The 7-day average is 9.1 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Steady attrition. Picked up as fighting increased in the Donbas but has steadied a bit in recent days.

At the end of May, the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine estimated the Russians had lost 48 special equipment vehicles. I’ll be honest, not sure how the Ukrainians designate these vehicles, but I do remember seeing a captured Electronic Warfare vehicle after the Battle of Kyiv. The Ukrainians are estimating the Russians lost four special equipment vehicles today (to 21/06). This would take the total vehicle losses to 59. The 7-day average is 0.7 per-day.

Quick data point(s): Need more info before I could even comment. Still, the Ukrainians are still reporting it so the Russian losses must be significant.

Slava Ukraini.

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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.

 

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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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Submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

My story starts in 1999 when I first self-reported about mental health concerns. To the best of my knowledge I am the only person to self-report from Operation Baritone (1997).

Two years prior, on the 22nd March 1997 the online company from 3 Brigade including a detachment from the 103rd Signal Squadron of which I was a part, commenced deployment operations for an airlift to Port Moresby as part of a Company Group deployment.

It was the first stage of a larger plan to ‘temporarily’ re-occupy Papua New Guinea during the Sandline Affair.

Things were moving very quickly. The medics and doctors were under intense pressure to get us out the door. A memory from pre-deployment was of the RMO making their notes on the back of the soldier in front of me, then the same for the next in line.

As part of our pre-deployment the company was given a number of medications including a mefloquine loading dose over three days to counteract malaria. After recent investigations I found that anti-malarials was not noted in my official medical records. I have since been able to prove that I was given mefloquine via my Red Cross blood donation history.

Long story short, the Sandline Affair works itself out without Australian intervention and Company Group is given a leave pass to get on the drink. So close though. Another Fiji, 1987.

For many years, I did not remember any detail from this period until a series of ‘flash-backs’ in 2018/19 become so bad that they hospitalised me. Ironically, it is on the 22nd anniversary of Operation Baritone I was finally admitted to a mental health facility.

Mefloquine sent me insane. I attempted suicide in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2014. When I finally confirmed what the Army had done to me in early 2019 I was angry but also a little relieved. I could finally die with a little peace.

When enough memory had returned that I was able to prove the mefloquine exposure I tried to inform all the relevant authorities. Entities such as the Army HQ, the DVA were not interested in finding these men. The Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute and the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee were sympathetic but unhelpful.

In summary:

A company of soldiers were given mefloquine in 1997, a medication which was noted by the World Health Organisation as harmful in 1989. Mefloquine has also been linked to suicides and murder-suicides, most notably at Fort Bragg in 2002. It is rarely used these days. It is a medication that the Armed Forces of many countries wish they had never used.

Some from the Company Group may be dead from their mefloquine exposure. Some, like me, are permanently damaged. Many would not have experienced any symptoms and would wonder what all the fuss is about.

At the very least the men of my Company Group assigned to the opening phases of Operation Baritone deserve to be told they were exposed to mefloquine.

For your review and consideration.