Defense Secretary Austin back in hospital, transfers powers to his deputy

Defense Secretary Austin back in hospital, transfers powers to his deputy

Defense Secretary Austin back in hospital, transfers powers to his deputy

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized again Sunday to address a bladder issue as he continues to recover from prostate cancer and has transferred authorities to his deputy, the Pentagon said.

Sec'y Austin needs to retire

Maginnis, Robert (FRC) Maginnis

"This position [Secretary of Defense] is one of the top four in the Cabinet – and given the condition of Mr. Biden, I don't want to have anybody who can't give total commitment to the job."

"Given this episode, it appears as if [Austin] is not well enough to continue long term in that position. Somebody [in that position] has to be engaged – and only the most resilient and capable and healthy can do these jobs."

"We don't need the top guy at the Pentagon to be incapacitated for one day, much less for weeks as this guy has been. There are times in which you have to say enough is enough, and I think this recent episode is indicative of that."

Bob Maginnis
Senior fellow for national security
Family Research Council
(in an interview with AFN)

Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December and continues to deal with complications from his treatment.

At about 2:20 p.m. Sunday, he was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center "to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue," Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

While Austin initially intended to retain the "functions and duties of his office,” at about 5 p.m. Sunday he transferred those authorities to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. As of Sunday evening, he remained hospitalized.

A statement from Walter Reed medical officials late Sunday said Austin was admitted into the critical care unit for supportive care and close monitoring. Dr. John Maddox, the trauma medical director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research of the Murtha Cancer Center, said while it was unclear at this time how long Austin will remain hospitalized, “the current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was notified, as well as the White House and Congress.

Austin was scheduled to depart Tuesday for Brussels to hold a meeting of the Ukraine contact group, which he established in 2022 to coordinate military support for Kyiv after Russia's invasion. After that, Austin was scheduled to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers.

It was not immediately clear if this hospitalization would change those plans.

Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December and underwent a procedure called a prostatectomy to treat it on Dec. 22.

Over the following week, he developed complications and on Jan. 1, in extreme pain, he was taken to Walter Reed by ambulance where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. Austin remained at Walter Reed until Jan. 15. He then continued to recover and work from home, and he returned to the Pentagon Jan. 29.

His doctors have previously said his prognosis against the cancer is “excellent” and that no further treatments will be needed.

Austin has gone back to Walter Reed for follow-ups since his hospitalization but this is his first unscheduled trip due to continued complications from his cancer treatments.