Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the Union of Burma on June 29, 2012 by the U.S. Senate. Ambassador Mitchell arrived in Burma on July 11, 2012, and presented his credentials to President Thein Sein.
From August 2011 to June 2012, Ambassador Mitchell served as the first Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Mitchell served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, from April 2009 until August 2011. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the Defense Department’s security policy in Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia. For his service, he received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Distinguished Public Service in August 2011.
From January 2001 to April 2009, Ambassador Mitchell served as senior fellow and director of the Asia Division of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Ambassador Mitchell concurrently served as founding director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Initiative, which was inaugurated in January 2008 and was the Center’s first dedicated program to the study of Southeast Asian affairs.
Ambassador Mitchell was special assistant for Asian and Pacific affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001, when he served alternately as senior country director for China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Hong Kong (2000–2001), director for regional security affairs (1998–2000), country director for Japan (1997–1998), and senior country director for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore (1998–1999). Ambassador Mitchell was the principal author of the Department of Defense 1998 East Asia Strategy Report, and received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Public Service in January 2001.
Prior to joining the Department of Defense, Ambassador Mitchell served as senior program officer for Asia and the former Soviet Union at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Washington, D.C. From 1986 to 1988, he served as assistant to the senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Ambassador Mitchell received a master of arts in law and diplomacy degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1991 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1986. He studied Chinese language at Nanjing University in China and speaks Mandarin Chinese proficiently. Ambassador Mitchell has authored numerous books, articles, and opinion pieces on Asian security affairs, and is coauthor of China: The Balance Sheet—What the World Needs to Know Now about the Emerging Superpower (Public Affairs, 2006), and China’s Rise: Challenges and Opportunities (Peterson Institute for International Economics Press, 2008).