Secretary of State Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized for the second time in as many months — but this time around the Pentagon was quick to share that information.
The Department of Defense said Austin’s superiors in the White House were told as were those under his direct command that he was admitted to the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
It remains unclear exactly who had full control of the U.S. military for the first week of the year.
The 70-year-old Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s critical care unit Sunday following what was described as a bladder issue.
The Pentagon issued a statement Sunday attributed to two doctors at Walter Reed.
“Earlier today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” it said.
“Tonight, after a series of tests and evaluations, the Secretary was admitted into the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for supportive care and close monitoring.”
The statement concluded it was unknown how long Austin would be hospitalized but his cancer prognosis was “excellent.”
Should Lloyd Austin resign?
In a separate statement from the DoD, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said he was quick to notify the White House and others.
“Today, at approximately 2:20 pm, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” Ryder said. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified. Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred.”
He added that Austin remained in command of the country’s military forces.
“At this time, the Secretary is retaining the functions and duties of his office, Ryder said. “The Deputy Secretary is prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense, if required. Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed some of Austin’s duties last month during his first hospitalization.
Austin was admitted to Walter Reed on New Year’s Day.
After he was released from Walter Reed, Austin apologized for having not notified his boss and his subordinates about the state of his health and readiness.
“I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed,” the defense secretary said. “I commit to doing better. But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”
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