Shwe Mann graduated from the Defense
Services Academy in 1969, where his classmates included
Brigadier General Kyaw Thein, a former intelligence officer,
as well as current Minister of Information Brigadier General
He rose steadily through the ranks of
the officers’ corps, achieving the level of major
in 1988. He earned the honorific title “Thura”
for military operations against the Karen National Liberation
Army in 1989. He served in Karen State as a regiment commander
and in 1991 served as a tactical operations commander
for Light Infantry Division (LID) 66 based in Prome.
By 1996, he had achieved the rank of
Brigadier General and was appointed to oversee security
in Rangoon as commander of the elite LID 11 based in Taukkyant,
near Rangoon. A year later, he became commander of Southwest
Military Region in Bassein, Irrawaddy Division, as well
as a de facto member of the SPDC.
In 2000, he was promoted to Major General
and became a permanent member of the SPDC. Shwe Mann was
transferred to the defense ministry in 2001, where he
assumed the prestigious position of Joint Chief of Staff,
which gave him oversight of all commanders from the army,
navy and air force. The following year, he was awarded
the newly minted position of Tatmadaw Nyi Hnying Kutkae
Yay Hmu, which gave him oversight of Burma’s Bureaus
of Special Operations as well.
By 2003, Shwe Mann had reached the rank
of general. Shwe Mann seems to have earned considerable
respect among Burma’s foot soldiers, particularly
those who served directly under his command. His recent
duties, however, have kept him far from the front lines
and out of touch with regional commanders and their battalions.
1988 – Major
Unknown – Regiment Commander
Unknown– Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel
1991 – Tactical operations commander
By 1996 – Brigadier General
1997 – Commander SW region
2000 – Major General, SPDC Member
2001 – Joint Chief of Staff, which gave him oversight
of all commanders from the army, navy and air force
2002 – Tatmadaw Nyi Hnying Kutkae Yay Hmu, which
gave him oversight of Burma’s Bureaus of Special
2003 – General
CONLFICTS WITHIN THE SPDC
Despite working under the direct command
of Maung Aye, his loyalty is seen to be with Than Shwe.
He survived in his role as a “pawn,” while
successfully securing the support of former PM Soe Win
and then SPDC Secretary-1 Thein Sein.
In 2006, military sources reported that
transfers and the reshuffling of divisional commanders,
Brigadier Generals, and Colonels, including ambassadors,
related to an intensifying power struggle between Shwe
Mann and Maung Aye.
BUSINESS TIES AND CORRUPTION
Sons’ business and links
Shwe Mann’s son Aung Thet Mann
is a director at Ayer Shwe Wah, which in 2005 became the
first private company allowed to export rice to Bangladesh
and Singapore. The company is part of Burmese tycoon Tay
Za’s Htoo Trading Company. Aung Thet Mann has been
in business since his father was regional commander in
Irrawaddy Division, where Ayer Shwe Wah received lucrative
government contracts to supply fertilizers to farmers
throughout the delta region. The company has also been
involved in construction projects in Naypyidaw.
In 2004, Shwe Mann’s son Toe Naing
Mann married Zay Zin Latt, the daughter of leading Rangoon
real estaste mogul Khin Shwe, president of Zaygabar, a
leading firm in Burma. At a lavish wedding party held
in the Sedona Hotel, the keys to more than 50 new vehicles
were presented as gifts. In October 2007, the US Treasury
placed Khin Shwe and Zaygabar on its list of individuals
and business targeted for sanctions.
On 25 February, the US Treasury added
his wife Khin Lay Thetto to its list of SPDC affiliated
individuals targeted for sanctions.
Corruption related to his sons has reportedly
angered other senior military figures, Maung Aye in particular.
Aung Thet Mann was said to have upset Maung Aye with his
playboy reputation and “excessive corruption.”
In 2005, Shwe Mann reportedly ordered
SPDC action against corrupt authorities throughout Burma,
although some with ties to high ranking officials avoided
• After the Depayin massacre, Shwe
Mann met with ethnic leaders to ask for their cooperation
of silence about the incident.
• In 2006, military analysts in Rangoon suggested
Shwe Mann might have been behind the ongoing offensive
in Karen State.
• He has been widely predicted as an alternative
to Maung Aye as the head of the military following a departure
of Than Shwe, with Than Shwe taking on “civilian”