Rob Williams


Ohio State University


Dr. Peter Mansoor

Academic Interests:

20th Century Land Warfare
American Military History
Modern American History
Civil-Military Relations
US Foreign Relations
Cold War
Organizational Culture


The Airborne Mafia: Organizational Culture and Institutional Change in the U.S. Army, 1940–1965

Bio Note:

Rob Williams is a Ph.D. student in Military History at The Ohio State University. His research focuses on the relationship between organizational culture, operational behavior, and memory in military institutions throughout history.

His dissertation, tentatively titled “The Airborne Mafia: Organizational Culture and Institutional Change in the U.S. Army, 1940–1965,” analyzes the creation and transmission of values, beliefs, and norms from one subculture to the larger Army bureaucracy, and its impacts on Cold War institutional development. His research will demonstrate the capacity for a tactical subculture to have an enormous effect on its parent organization as well as national strategic behavior.

Born and raised in Washington state, Rob served in the US Army as an infantryman and paratrooper for over fifteen years and is a graduate of the US Army’s Airborne, Jumpmaster, and Pathfinder schools. Holding every position in an infantry platoon from rifleman to platoon sergeant, Rob is now parlaying his experience into researching the origins of the airborne mystique. He is the author of “Using Grief to Bridge the Civilian-Military Divide,” in the May 2020 issue of VFW Magazine and "Renaming Southern Army Bases Is Nothing New" in Ohio State's Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective as well as multiple Op-Eds.

Rob earned a BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018, and an MA in history from The Ohio State University in 2020.

You can also find Rob on Twitter @RealBigWill82.

Updated June 2021

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