National Security

Sec Def Austin To Undergo Another Medical Procedure Following January Hospital Scare

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Jake Smith Contributor
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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will undergo a medical procedure on Friday, the Department of Defense announced, following previous medical issues that he did not initially disclose to the White House or the American public.

Austin will go to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday for a “scheduled, elective, and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure related to his previously reported bladder issue,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said on Friday. Austin will be unable to fulfill his duties during this time, so Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks will assume his functions in the meantime. (RELATED: Sec Def Admits It’s Possible US Troops Could Get Into A Firefight With Gaza Terrorists)

“We will provide an update on Secretary Austin’s status following his medical procedure,” Ryder said. No details were provided as to when Austin is expected to be released from Walter Reed.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – MAY 24: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) welcomes Kenyan President William Ruto (L) to the Pentagon on May 24, 2024 in Arlington, Virginia. Ruto and Austin were expected to discuss a range of bilateral issues during their meeting, one day after Ruto was hosted at the White House by U.S. President Joe Biden. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Austin initially underwent a procedure in late December to address issues stemming from a prostate cancer diagnosis; that procedure was completed without issues. However, Austin was rushed to the hospital in early January after suffering urinary tract complications from the surgery.

Austin did not disclose his hospitalization to the White House or President Joe Biden until days later. His duties were handed over to Hicks, who was on vacation in Puerto Rico at the time, and also did not appear to have knowledge of his status.

“We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right,” Austin said during a press conference in January. “A wider circle should have been notified, especially the president.”

Austin fell under scrutiny from lawmakers for his decision not to be transparent about his medical status. The Pentagon conducted an investigation into Austin’s disappearance and found he had no malign intentions.

“The process for making decisions to transfer the Secretary’s authority could and should be improved,” an unclassified report from the Pentagon in February reads, noting that his staff was largely unaware of his condition due to privacy concerns. “Nothing examined during this review demonstrated any indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate.”

Austin’s medical procedure on Friday is unrelated to his cancer prognosis, Ryder said. The White House and Congress have received notification of the procedure.

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