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Biden to pick Cuban-born Navy veteran to be Navy secretary

Carlos Del Toro spent more than two decades in the Navy and later founded a tech company

Navy Secretary designee Carlos Del Toro previously served as commanding officer of the USS Bulkeley, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, seen here in the Gulf of Oman in 2014.
Navy Secretary designee Carlos Del Toro previously served as commanding officer of the USS Bulkeley, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, seen here in the Gulf of Oman in 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Donald R. White Jr.)

President Joe Biden announced Friday he plans to tap Carlos Del Toro, a Navy veteran and CEO of a technology company, to be the next Navy secretary.

Born in Cuba, Del Toro is a 1983 graduate of the Naval Academy who spent more than two decades in the Navy, including serving as the commanding officer of the USS Bulkeley, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

In 2004, Del Toro founded SBG Technology Solutions, and has served as the firm’s CEO ever since.

“Carlos rose through the ranks of the Navy with a distinguished record of service, leadership, and innovation,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement Friday. “As a Naval Officer, a White House Fellow, entrepreneur, and a tech CEO he’s had success at every step of his career in both the military and private sector.”

In addition to serving on a variety of surface ships during his naval career, Del Toro was a White House fellow at the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama administration, according to his Naval Academy bio. He was also the senior military assistant to the director of defense programs analysis and evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Del Toro may face a barrage of pointed questions at his confirmation hearing. Earlier this month, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker, a holdover from the Trump administration, sent an internal memo calling for eliminating funding for development efforts for a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile in fiscal 2023.

Harker’s memo also suggested that the Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of fighter jets, guided-missile destroyers and attack submarines in 2023, and recommended prioritizing one program and “rephasing” the others.

Multiple Republican lawmakers brought up Harker’s memo Thursday when Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I find it very concerning that an acting service secretary who hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate is making a decision like this,” Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer said. “I don’t think this is the right way to make decisions about nuclear policy.”

Austin and Milley said it was a pre-decisional, internal Navy memo, and they had not seen it or been consulted about its contents.

“I am not familiar with the memo, nor was I consulted,” Milley told Fischer. “But as soon as we are done here, I will go find that memo and get consulted.”

In addition to his degree in electrical engineering from the Naval Academy, Del Toro earned masters degrees in space systems engineering, national security and strategic studies, and legislative affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School, the Naval War College, and George Washington University, respectively.

Almost five months into the Biden administration, only one service secretary has been confirmed.

Last month, the Senate confirmed Christine Wormuth as Army secretary. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services panel advanced the nomination of former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall to be Air Force secretary.

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