The US Senate confirmed Carlos Del Toro as the next Secretary of the Navy on Saturday, ending months without a confirmed candidate for the service’s top leadership position.
Del Toro, who will replace Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker, was confirmed by voice vote. Harker has led the Navy for just over 200 days since Jan.20, the first day of the Biden administration.
The Trump administration had an acting secretary for 195 days after his inauguration in 2017. President Barack Obama waited 67 days; President George W. Bush, 124 days.
Del Toro is a former Navy officer and ship commander who was the CEO of an engineering and consulting firm until confirmed.
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During his confirmation hearing, Del Toro stressed the importance that China will play in the future strategy of the Navy, as well as the budgetary and shipbuilding challenges.
“If this is confirmed, I will focus exclusively on the Chinese threat and exclusively on advancing our maritime strategy to protect Taiwan and all of our national security interests in the Indo-Pacific theater,” Del Toro told Congress on July 13.
“We can no longer take US naval superiority for granted,” he warned in his opening remarks.
He added that “the Navy and Marine Corps team will need additional resources to be able to fully respond to the combat effectiveness that we will need.”
The remarks came amid some criticism from Congress that the Navy’s 2022 budget proposal is funding research and development for projects such as a hypersonic missile on shipbuilding efforts.
Del Toro’s confirmation also comes at a tumultuous time for Navy leadership. Former President Donald Trump’s First Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, was fired in November 2019 for handling the case of former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.
Gallagher was charged by the military with war crimes during a tumultuous deployment to Iraq in 2017. He was eventually acquitted by court martial on most counts, but found guilty of posing for a photo with the corpse of a prisoner. Gallagher was demoted, but Trump restored his rank and he was allowed to retire honorably.
Spencer described Trump’s involvement in the case as “a shocking and unprecedented intervention” in a Washington Post op-ed he wrote after his ouster.
Spencer was replaced by Thomas Modly, who served as Acting Secretary of the Navy for just over 100 days before resigning following a storm of events resulting from the dismissal of a door commander- planes that warned superiors of a growing COVID-19 crisis on his ship.
Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson, a former enlisted soldier and retired Navy lawyer, took over the post for just under two months until Kenneth Braithwaite was confirmed by the Senate in May 2020. Braithwaite saw the Navy until the end of the Trump administration.
Harker, Del Toro’s predecessor, has served as Acting Secretary for just over 200 days, one of the longest periods since the position was created in 1949.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement on Sunday: “Carlos Del Toro’s lifelong activities and his deep experience in promoting US national security make him well prepared to serve as the 78th Secretary of the United States. Marine.
“We remain the preeminent force in the world thanks to leaders like Carlos,” he added, “and I have no doubt that our navy and our nation will be well served.”
Military.com contacted the Navy to find out when Del Toro will be sworn in, but did not immediately receive a response.
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