Than Shwe is originally from Kyaukse in central Myanmar. After graduating from high school, he went to work as a clerk in a post office. In 1953, at the age of 20, Than Shwe attended the Officer Training School's sixth course, after which he received his commission in the army. In 1963, one year after Ne Win crushed the Burmese democracy, Than Shwe was appointed as instructor at the Central Institute of Political Science, the ideological training center of the BSPP. He rose gradually through the ranks of the army and in 1980 was promoted to the influential post of commander of the 88th Light Infantry division. He was considered an able field commander, though some analysts depict him as ruthless and more feared than respected by underlings. In 1983, he took over the Southwest Regional Command, and became chairman of the regional committee of the BSPP. Promoted to major general in 1985, he was then named deputy chief of staff of the army.