Austin taken to the hospital for bladder problems

Pentagon published on Sunday that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III was taken to a military hospital that afternoon for treatment of “symptoms suggestive of bladder problems.”

Mr. Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., at 2:20 p.m., Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder said in a statement. He added that the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified, as well as the White House and members of Congress.

In another statement Sunday night, General Ryder said that Mr. Austin, 70, “turned over the functions and duties” of his office to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks at about 4:55 p.m.

The announcements appeared to be aimed at showing transparency about Mr. Austin’s medical condition and highlighting the fact that multiple senior officials across the US government had been notified.

Mr Austin came under heavy criticism last month when he went to hospital for several days with complications from recent prostate cancer surgery. He initially kept his visit to the hospital secret from top administration officials, including President Biden, the White House national security adviser, the secretary of state and senior Pentagon officials, including those directly under him in the office.

Mr. Austin also failed to inform the president that he had undergone the original surgery in December.

Lawmakers called on the Pentagon to provide answers about why so many officials were kept in the dark. Mr. Biden said on Jan. 12 that he still had confidence in Mr. Austin. But when the president was asked if it was a lapse in judgment for Mr. Austin not to inform him that he was out of office, Mr. Biden said “yes.”

Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general and former commander of United States Central Command, had served in the military for more than 40 years when he took the Pentagon’s top job in 2021. Throughout his career, he sought to avoid the spotlight and tried to keep many parts of his life under wraps. out of the public eye.

General Ryder said the Pentagon would provide an update on Mr. Austin’s condition as soon as possible.

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