New U.S. Navy Secretary is "Exclusively Focused on the China Threat"
On Saturday, the U.S. Senate confirmed businessman and former Navy officer Carlos Del Toro as the 78th Secretary of the Navy. Del Toro takes over from Acting Secretary Thomas Harker, and he will be the seventh person in four years to occupy the service's top civilian post.
Del Toro, who retired with the rank of commander after a 22-year career in the Navy, served as the first commanding officer of the destroyer USS Bulkeley. He deployed to the Persian Gulf three times during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and he served aboard a frigate, two destroyers, a cruiser and an aircraft carrier over the span of his time in the service. His shore tours included time as a program manager with Naval Warfare Information Systems Command and the National Reconnaissance Office. By background, he was born in Havana and immigrated to the United States with his parents at an early age; he is the second Latino and the first Cuban-American to hold the post of Secretary of the Navy.
In his confirmation hearing in July, Del Toro told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would focus on modernization, and would be keeping a particularly close eye on the Indo-Pacific.
"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 said.
The defense of Taiwan is a key mission, he suggested, including arms sales. "It's incredibly important to defend Taiwan in every way possible," Del Toro said. "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."
He said that to meet these demands, he is committed to investing in the fleet to hit the Navy's 355-ship target - alongside investments in new technology.
"I believe that as our nation shifts from a land-based strategy over the past 20 years fighting the wars in the Middle East to a more dominant maritime strategy in the Pacific – particularly in our efforts to deter China – I do believe that our Navy-Marine Corps team will need additional resources," he told the committee. "And I am committed – in fact that it’s my responsibility – to make that case to the [Secretary of Defense] and the administration."