Defense

Senate panel advances Navy secretary nominee

The Senate Armed Services Committee has advanced President Biden's nominee to lead the Navy, Carlos Del Toro.

In a voice vote Tuesday, the committee advanced Del Toro alongside a group of four other civilian nominations and nearly 2,000 military nominations, the panel said in a news release.

The Navy secretary is the final service secretary the Biden administration needs approved after Frank Kendall was confirmed as Air Force secretary Monday and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth was confirmed in May.

Del Toro is a Cuban-born Naval Academy graduate whose 22-year Navy career included commanding the USS Bulkeley destroyer and deploying to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm.

Since 2004, Del Toro has run a small IT firm he founded, SBG Technology Solutions, a Virginia-based government contractor.

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.

At his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Del Toro pledged to be "exclusively" focused on China.

"It's incredibly important to defend Taiwan in every way possible," Del Toro told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It takes a holistic view of our national commitment to Taiwan. We should be focused on providing Taiwan with as much self-defensive measures as humanly possible.

"And if confirmed to the Navy, I am going to be exclusively focused on the China threat and exclusively focused in moving our maritime strategy forward in order to protect Taiwan and all of our national security interests in the Indo-Pacific theater," he added.

The Navy has also been struggling to meet congressional demands for at least a 355-ship fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has said the Biden administration's fiscal 2022 budget request does not get the service on track to meet that goal.

At his confirmation hearing, Del Toro said he supports the 355-ship goal and pledged to fight for resources for the Navy in the fiscal 2023 budget.

But Del Toro also stressed the importance of balancing ship procurement with investing in emerging technologies, an argument Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other administration officials have made as they defended the 2022 budget request.

Outbrain