The Senate on Saturday confirmed Carlos Del Toro, a retired Navy commander and businessman, as the 78th secretary of the Navy and the second Hispanic American to lead the department.

Del Toro graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 and then served in the Navy for 22 years. His assignments included serving as the first commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Bulkeley, overseeing ship construction and fleet introduction activities as well as the integration of women into the crew. The vessel was one of the first mixed-gender warships.

He also served as a program manager for what was called Space and Naval Warfare Command — and is now Naval Information Warfare Systems Command — and as a senior executive assistant to the director for program analysis and evaluation within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he made top-level decisions about program development and budgets.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised Del Toro’s “lifelong pursuits and deep experience advancing America’s national security” in a statement over the weekend.

“He understands firsthand the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing our Navy, from addressing the pacing challenge of China and modernizing our capabilities, to investing in our most valuable asset — our people,” Austin said. “As an immigrant who has dedicated his life to public service, Carlos exemplifies the core values of honor, courage, and commitment in defense of our country.”

Del Toro comes aboard as the Navy continues to be tasked with missions that some analysts say are stretching the readiness of some portions of the fleet.

At his July Senate confirmation hearing, Del Toro said he supports plans to maintain a 355-ship Navy, but that getting to that number will require “additional resources” from Congress in the coming years.

He also cited climate change and China as top threats the force will face in the coming years.

“The climate crisis demands U.S. Navy investment precisely because it exacerbates every other challenge our Navy faces, including great power competition,” he said.

“Already, installation resilience is an issue, with vital installations facing threats from rising sea levels. Building energy and environmental resilience into our installations will make them more combat effective.”

During his Navy career, Del Toro also worked with Congress and the White House, serving as a legislative strategy action officer for the Navy as well as a White House fellow and the special assistant to the director and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

After retiring from the Navy, Del Toro founded SBG Technology Solutions, where he has served as president and CEO for 17 years. The company has participated in defense programs related to shipbuilding, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and space systems.

Del Toro was born in Havana, Cuba, and his family came to the U.S. as refugees in 1962, settling in New York City. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Naval Academy, a master’s degree in national security studies from the Naval War College, a master’s degree in space systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a master’s degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University. He is married to Betty Del Toro, and they have four children and a granddaughter.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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