COL (ret) Desmond Walton
Des supports BGA clients around the Asia-Pacific region by bringing his extensive regional expertise to bear on BGA’s analysis of political and economic developments across Southeast Asia, as well as the Asia-Pacific energy, defense and security sectors.
A retired U.S. Army foreign area officer (FAO) with extensive experience in national security policy, defense cooperation and Southeast Asia, Des’ final assignment in the army was serving as the U.S. defense attaché in Bangkok from 2012 to 2015.In this capacity, he was responsible for all Department of Defense programs and activities, including foreign military sales.
From 2009 to 2011, Des was the director for Southeast Asia at the U.S. National Security Council where he acted as the government focal point for coordinating policy initiatives related to Southeast Asia. Earlier, he served as the director for Southeast Asia at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he coordinated efforts to build critical defense capacity in partner nations. Before that, he served as the Army Division chief at the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group-Thailand. Earlier, Des served on the U.S. Pacific Command staff and was responsible for managing security assistance programs in Southeast Asia.
Des began his FAO career with Indonesian language training at the Defense Language Institute and graduate studies at George Washington University. He also attended the Indonesian Army Staff College in 2000 as an exchange student. Des joined the U.S. Army Special Forces in 1992 after successfully completing the qualification course and Thai language training.
Concurrent to his work with BGA, Des serves as a non-resident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., where he is involved in track two diplomacy efforts with Thailand. He is happiest outdoors and spends his weekends riding his mountain bike, canoeing or running the trails. He lives near Clifton, Virginia, with his wife Susan and son William.
Prior Professional Experience
- Senior Director, BowerGroupAsia (Mar 2016-Present)
- Senior Defense Official and Defense Attache, U.S. Embassy in Bangkok
- Director—Southeast Asia, National Security Council
- Director—Southeast Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense
Areas of Expertise
- Government Affairs
- Government Affairs
- George Washington University (1999)— Masters of International Policy
- Hood College (1997)— Business Administration
- Defense Language Institute (1997)— Indonesian Language
- Defense Language Institute (1992)— Thai Language
- Special Forces Association
- CSIS Senior Associate in Southeast Asia program
- Boy Scouts of America
Honors and Awards
- Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star
- Purple Heart
Selected Publications and Presentations
- "Security Cooperation: The Key to Access and Influence in the Asia-Pacific" - Center for New American Security, 13 June 2016
- "Saving America’s Ties with Thailand" - The Wall Street Journal, 22 July 2015
Insights & News From COL (ret) Desmond Walton
Reinforcing the Pillars of the U.S.-Thailand Alliance
BGA Senior Director Desmond Walton recently participated in a January 19 event on understanding Thailand’s protest movement. …
Timor-Leste Opposition’s Election Win Heralds Political Stability
The BGA Timor-Leste Team, led by Senior Adviser Amb. Ian Kemish, recently wrote an update on …
China’s AI Draft Regulation Addresses Global Concerns and Boosts National Security
The BGA China Team, led by Haiying Yuan, recently wrote an update on China’s draft regulation …