US Defense Secretary Austin transfers duties to deputy while in hospital

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 12: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has temporarily transferred his duties to his deputy as he undergoes treatment for symptoms indicating a potential bladder issue, the Pentagon announced.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed the responsibilities of the top position at the Pentagon shortly before 5 p.m., according to Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. The White House, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Congress have all been informed of the situation.

The swift notification of Austin’s hospitalization, with the first statement released within three hours, follows previous criticism of the Defense Secretary’s failure to promptly notify the administration and the public about his prior hospitalization.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center around 2:20 p.m., Ryder confirmed, though the duration of his stay was not disclosed.

“We will provide an update on Secretary Austin’s condition as soon as possible,” Ryder assured.

During his hospital visit, Austin ensured he had access to both unclassified and classified communications systems required for his duties.

Austin’s recent health issues come after a diagnosis of prostate cancer in early December, leading to a procedure on December 22. Following complications from the treatment, he returned to Walter Reed on New Year’s Day.

The lack of disclosure regarding Austin’s hospitalization sparked concerns about transparency within the administration, with Republicans particularly critical of the Pentagon’s handling of the situation. Austin is expected to testify before the House Armed Services Committee later this month regarding the delay in notifying key government officials.

After spending two weeks in the hospital and another two weeks working from home during his recovery, Austin’s current hospitalization adds to ongoing concerns about his health and transparency within the Department of Defense.

This news has been read 316 times!

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