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US Defense Secretary Austin hospitalized again, passes duties to deputy

by Martin Fornusek February 12, 2024 9:26 AM 1 min read
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on April 12, 2023. (Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal / Telegram)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was admitted to a critical care unit in Washington, DC, due to "symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue," Reuters reported on Feb. 11, citing Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

While in the hospital, Austin transferred his duties to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, said Pentagon spokesperson General Pat Ryder. The White House, Congress, and the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were notified immediately, Ryder added.

In early December, Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and hospitalized for related treatment. U.S. lawmakers criticized the defense secretary for failing to disclose the diagnosis and hospitalization on time, promoting Austin to make a public apology.

It remains unclear how long Austin should remain in the hospital, officials said.

The defense secretary's cancer prognosis is reportedly very good and the bladder issue should not complicate his full recovery, according to hospital officials.

Austin's failure to timely report his earlier diagnosis caused an embarrassment to President Joe Biden's administration. Three separate investigations have been opened into the defense secretary's behavior, and he is expected to testify in Congress on Feb. 29.

It remains unclear how Austin's current hospitalization will affect his plans to chair the Ukraine Defense Contact Group summit on Feb. 14.

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