Desmond Walton

Senior Associate (Non-resident), Southeast Asia Program
Associated Programs: Southeast Asia Program

Desmond Walton is a retired U.S. Army foreign area officer (FAO) with extensive experience in national security policy, defense cooperation, and Southeast Asia. His final assignment in the Army was in Bangkok, Thailand, where he served as the senior defense official, defense attaché, and chief of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) from 2012 to 2015. From 2009 to 2011, he was director for Southeast Asia at the National Security Council (NSC), where he acted as the focal point for coordinating and implementing policy initiatives related to Southeast Asia, including the first two meetings between the president and ASEAN leaders, outreach to Myanmar, and the Comprehensive Partnership with Indonesia. Prior to the NSC, he served as director for Southeast Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, developing and coordinating efforts to build defense capacity in partner nations. From 2004 to 2007, he was the Army division chief at JUSMAG-Thailand, where he managed $200 million in foreign military sales programs and grant assistance to the Royal Thai Army and helped lead relief efforts in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. Prior to his first tour in Thailand, he served on the U.S. Pacific Command staff and was responsible for managing security assistance programs in Southeast Asia. Mr. Walton began his FAO career with Indonesian language training at the Defense Language Institute and graduate studies at George Washington University, before attending the Indonesian Army Staff College in 2000 as an exchange student. He joined the U.S. Army Special Forces in 1992, after successfully completing the qualification course and Thai language training. He commanded two Operational Detachment Alphas, served as assistant operations officer in the First Special Forces Group, and conducted numerous deployments throughout South and Southeast Asia. He was commissioned as an engineer officer in 1986 and completed tours in South Korea, Fort Bragg, and Desert Shield/Storm as platoon leader and company executive officer.