Born in 1910, Shu Maung («Ne Win» was his nom-de-guerre ). He spent only two years at the Biology Department of Rangoon University (1929-31) before joining the nationalist association of Dobama Asiayone («We Burmans»). Picked up by the Japanese secret services in 1940, he became with Aung San one of the «Thirty Comrades», trained in Japan. He also was a founder of the Burma Independence Army (BIA). He became the sole Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw in 1949 and launched several counterinsurgency operations in the Karen, Mon, Shan and Karenni States.
Heading the caretaker military administration from 1958 to 1960, he finally staged a coup against U Nu's democratic government in March 1962 to establish a strong autarchic military regime inspired by a «Burmese Way to Socialism ». After 26 years of undisputed rule, he resigned in July 1988 in the midst of the pro-democracy movement but remained influential in the new SLORC that took power in September 1988. He died in December 2002.