Defence Secretary assigns deputy to handle duties while in the hospital

According to the Pentagon, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has delegated his responsibilities to his deputy while he is in the hospital treating an “emergent bladder issue”. For therapy, Mr. Austin, 70, will continue to be housed at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Virginia. The White House and senior officials had been notified, according to the Pentagon. The defense secretary came under fire for not disclosing that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had been hospitalized in December and January. For the event from last week, Mr. Austin expressed regret.

At the end of this month, he is expected to testify before Congress over his failure to warn government leaders. A second statement from the Pentagon stated that Mr. Austin “transferred the functions and duties of the office” to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks at around 16:55 local time (21:55 GMT). Mr. Austin underwent surgery for prostate cancer late in the previous year. Due to complications from the treatment, he was readmitted to the hospital on New Year’s Day with significant pain in his leg, hip, and abdomen. After a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection, he spent more than two weeks in the hospital.

It took the Biden administration and senior defense officials three days after Mr. Austin’s re-admission in January to learn that he was very ill. Three independent investigations of Mr. Austin’s management of his sickness and hospital visits were initiated as a result of the incident, which raised questions about security and openness. Prominent Republicans demanded that Mr. Austin be fired from his position. A congressional committee has called him to appear regarding his failure to notify President Biden and other high-ranking officials this month. One of the most significant cabinet members is the secretary of defense, who is ranked just below the president in the US military’s chain of command.

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