The Leaderboard: David Shear

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.
Who is he?

David Shear is currently the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, a posting he has held since 2011. From 2009 to 2011, Shear was deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Known as a China hand within the government, he has broader experience around Asia. He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 and has served in multiple diplomatic postings to China, Japan, and Malaysia.

Shear was educated at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, and the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He speaks Chinese and Japanese.

Ambassador David Shear, currently U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Source: U.S. Government Work.

Ambassador David Shear, currently U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Source: U.S. Government Work.

Why is he in the news?

President Barack Obama on December 19 nominated Shear to the position of assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at the Department of Defense. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Mark Lippert, who left the position in 2013 to become chief of staff for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. U.S. Asia analysts have been concerned about vacancies in the Asia portfolios at the Pentagon and Shear’s nomination has been welcomed based on his skills and experience.

What can we expect from him?

His 32 years of diplomatic experience in East Asia ensure Shear will bring deep knowledge of the region to the Department of Defense. Along with the years in, Shear brings a very high emotional intelligence to the job. His diplomatic bedside manner, mixing serious messages with good humor and a heavy dollop of listening have made him successful in past postings. This will make him an asset in consolidating and deepening the security component of President Obama’s rebalance to the Asia Pacific.

Shear’s experience at the State Department and in embassies augurs well for inter-agency coordination. Expect to see new energy from the Pentagon, particularly in Vietnam.  Shear will be well positioned to thoughtfully build U.S.-Vietnam bilateral security ties and ensure the U.S. government remains focused on the maritime security of Southeast Asia.


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