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A native of Reston, Virginia, Rear Adm. Williams received a commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in 1992. He earned a master's degree in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington, District of Columbia in 1999 and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College, Washington, District Columbia in 2013, where he was selected as a distinguished graduate.
As a surface warfare officer, he deployed around the world in surface combatants and afloat staffs. Most recently, Williams was commander, Destroyer Squadron Twenty Three and served as the sea combat commander for the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2016. He also was the first commanding officer of USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and commanded USS Vandegrift (FFG 48). Additional sea service includes: executive officer, USS Anzio (CG 68); operations officer, Destroyer Squadron 21; operations officer, USS Higgins (DDG 76); executive and operations officer, USS Chinook (PC 9); main propulsion assistant and first lieutenant, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47).
Ashore, Williams served as Director of Plans, Policy and Integration, N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; executive assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations; administrative aide to the Secretary of the Navy and Department of the Navy Executive Secretary; White House fellow and special assistant to the NASA Administrator; special assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; and strategist on the Navy staff (N51) and Joint staff (J5). He was also the second director of the Sea Combat Division at the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center in San Diego, California.
Williams’ decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and various service and campaign awards. Williams is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, with an enduring professional and academic focus on Asia and China.