Defense

Biden taps tech CEO, former destroyer commander to lead Navy

President Biden will nominate Carlos Del Toro, a Cuban-born Navy veteran who runs a small IT firm in Virginia, to be secretary of the Navy, the White House announced Friday.

If confirmed, Del Toro would be the second Latino Navy secretary, after Eduardo Hidalgo in the Carter administration.

Born in Havana, Del Toro and his family immigrated to the United States in 1962, and he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983.

His 22-year Navy career included becoming the commissioning commanding officer of the USS Bulkeley destroyer in 1998, as well as deploying to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. He later served in several senior-level appointments at the Pentagon, working on issues including budgeting, acquisition, space and legislation.

In 2004, Del Toro founded SBG Technology Solutions, a government contractor that provides IT and engineering services; he serves as its CEO and president.

If confirmed, Del Toro would lead the Navy at a time when naval power is expected to be at the forefront of U.S. competition with China.

The Navy has been struggling to meet congressional demands for at least a 355-ship fleet, and strains on the fleet have shown in cases such as moving the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to the Middle East to help provide cover during the Afghanistan withdrawal, leaving the supposed priority theater of the Pacific temporarily without a carrier presence.

Amid expectations budgets will stay relatively flat over the next few years, the service has also been grappling with how to approach costly modernization plans that call for next-generation fighter jets, destroyers or submarines.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) called Del Toro an "excellent selection" to lead the Navy and Marine Corps, which falls under the Department of the Navy.

"He has an impressive resume and exemplifies so many of the qualities that make the Navy and our nation great," Reed said in a statement Friday. "We must strengthen the readiness and capacity of the Navy and Marine Corps. Carlos Del Toro is uniquely well-qualified to address these challenges and help steer the Navy and Marine Corps in the right direction."

Navy secretary is the last service secretary position Biden needs to fill. Christine Wormuth was confirmed as Army secretary last month, making her the first woman in the job, while the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday advanced Frank Kendall's nomination to be Air Force secretary.

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