Rear Admiral Joe Tofalo grew up in upstate New York and graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Catholic University of America. His father was a 35-year career naval officer, and his mother was a Navy WAVE, one of the first enlisted women in the Navy.
A career submarine officer, his at-sea assignments include: USS Flasher (SSN 613); USS Michigan (SSGN 727); and USS Montpelier (SSN 765). His at-sea command assignments were as commanding officer, USS Maine (SSBN 741), and commander, Submarine Squadron 3.
Staff assignments include: three assignments on Commander, Submarine Forces staff; two assignments on Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces staff; four assignments on the Chief of Naval Operations staff; U.S. Joint Forces Command; and the Joint Staff.
Selected for Rear Admiral in December 2009, his first flag assignment was as assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations (N3B), U.S. Fleet Forces Command. In August 2011 he relieved as Commander, Submarine Group 10, and in December 2013 as Director, Undersea Warfare on the Chief of Naval Operations staff in the Pentagon.