Alternative Asean Network on Burma
campaigns, advocacy and capacity-building for human rights
About Us

Joint Chief of Staff
Coordinator of Special Ops

Born: 11 July 1947
Wife: Khin Lay Thet
Children: Three sons

Shwe Mann is currently the number three man in the military hierarchy and holds the title of Joint Chief of Staff.

Shwe Mann became a powerful figure in the regime when he was appointed Chief of Staff for the Army, Navy, and Air Force in November 2001. Before his appointment, each of Burma’s three military services had its own chief of staff. The heads of the Bureaus of Special Operations and the Rangoon Military Region Commander also report directly to him.



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 Kyaw Hsan.

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.

Ranks held

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 Operations
2003 – General


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.


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 punishment.


Fast Facts

• 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” leadership.