March 4, 2024

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin has been hospitalised for a second time this year. Here’s what we know so far

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalised for the second time this 12 months, whereas he undergoes remedy for a possible bladder issue following his prostate cancer diagnosis.

The Biden administration confirmed on Sunday that the Pentagon chief had been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Doctors mentioned that it’s unclear how lengthy he’ll stay on the centre.

In an replace afterward Sunday night time, officers confirmed that he had been positioned in a crucial care unit for monitoring following a number of tests. His deputy has taken over duties in the meantime.

This comes after Mr Austin faced widespread criticism in early January when it emerged that the 70-year-old had didn’t disclose his most cancers prognosis – and that he was out of motion for remedy – to the president and the remainder of the administration for a number of days.

Here’s what we know so far about this newest hospital keep:

Current hospitalisation and transferral of duties

The Pentagon introduced on Sunday that Mr Austin had been hospitalised for remedy of signs indicating a attainable “emergent bladder issue”.

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj Gen Pat Ryder mentioned in a statement that Mr Austin was taken to hospital by his safety element at about 2.20pm on 11 February.

He added that Mr Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for signs suggesting an “emergent bladder issue”.

“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,” the assertion learn.

Initially, Mr Austin retained the duties of his workplace and hd “traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties”.

But, in a follow-up statement, the press secretary mentioned that “at approximately 4:55 pm today, Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties”.

The transferral of his duties got here after he was moved to a crucial care unit within the hospital.

Doctors on the hospital mentioned in yet one more statement afterward Sunday that “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”.

“At this time, it is not clear how long Secretary Austin will remain hospitalized. The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery. His cancer prognosis remains excellent,” they added.

Lloyd Austin has been hospitalised once more

(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The preliminary assertion relating to Mr Austin’s hospitalisation got here inside three hours of his arrival at Walter Reed, a clear response to keep away from the errors of the previous.

During his earlier hospitalisation for prostate most cancers in early January, President Joe Biden didn’t know for three days that his prime defence official was out of motion.

The defence secretary later admitted that there had been failures in communication about his medical standing each with the general public and the remainder of the Biden administration. The uproar over the shortage of communication prompted the Pentagon to conduct a overview of its procedures.

Prostate most cancers prognosis and former hospital keep

Back in early December, Mr Austin was recognized with prostate most cancers. He underwent a surgical process on 22 December, for which common anaesthesia and staying in a single day at Walter Reed had been wanted.

Following problems from that process, Mr Austin was readmitted to the hospital on New Year’s Day with a urinary tract an infection.

Mr Austin spent two weeks within the hospital and subsequently labored from dwelling for one other two weeks.

During this time, he delegated his authority to Ms Hicks, however the Defense Department didn’t share the hospital stick with the White House, prime officers in its personal ranks, the Congress, or the media for a variety of days.

Mr Biden solely turned conscious of Mr Austin’s absence three days after he was hospitalised when National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was advised simply earlier than he was set to participate in an occasion the defence secretary had additionally been scheduled to attend.

Ms Hicks was additionally not made conscious of Mr Austin’s standing for three days, regardless of being his deputy – and the individual to tackle his duties in his absence.

She took on the duties of the secretary quickly at the same time as she was on trip in Puerto Rico.

Pentagon officers had been made aware of two hours earlier than an preliminary public assertion was launched, and Congress was advised about quarter-hour earlier than, in response to Politico.

This all got here at a time of escalating tensions within the Middle East over Israel’s navy actions in Gaza, rising assaults on US navy bases within the Middle East by Iran-backed militias in addition to a time when the US Navy was combatting strikes by Houthi rebels on worldwide delivery within the Red Sea.

The lack of communication flew within the face of ordinary practices round reporting medical issues of cupboard secretaries and different prime US officers, and prompted important issues relating to transparency.

Backlash over lack of communication

Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress slammed the Pentagon for its dealing with of the scenario and called on Mr Austin to step down.

In mid-January, Mr Biden acknowledged that it was a lapse in judgment for Mr Austin to not share his medical standing, however the president added that he nonetheless has confidence within the secretary.

“Generally, the president has been like, this can’t happen again,” an nameless White House official advised Politico early last month.

On 7 January, former President Donald Trump called for Mr Austin to be “fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty”.

Newly-released 911 name reveals new particulars about Lloyd Austin’s hospitalisation

“He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be,” he ranted.

“He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with ‘General’ Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!”

The Pentagon Press Association, which represents media shops overlaying the division, despatched a letter to Maj Gen Ryder and Chris Meagher, the assistant protection secretary for public affairs saying: “The fact that he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for four days and the Pentagon is only now alerting the public late on a Friday evening is an outrage”.

The letter added: “At a time when there are growing threats to US military service members in the Middle East and the US is playing key national security roles in the wars in Israel and Ukraine, it is particularly critical for the American public to be informed about the health status and decision-making ability of its top defense leader.”

Towards the tip of February, Mr Austin is about to seem earlier than the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee to deal with issues over the matter.

Appearing earlier than the Pentagon press corps on 1 February, Mr Austin mentioned: “We did not handle this right, and I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public.

“And I take full responsibility. I apologise to my teammates and to the American people.”

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has now completed a month-long overview of the communication procedures relating to the switch of tasks.

Maj Gen Ryder advised the press on Thursday that Mr Austin is trying on the overview, including that whereas giant elements of it are categorized, the Pentagon would try and share as a lot as attainable with the general public.

Legal consultants have mentioned that Mr Austin could have violated a regulation relating to “reporting of vacancies” which states that government businesses must report any absences of prime officers and who’s serving in an appearing capability to each the House and the Senate, Reuters reported on 9 January.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks speaks throughout a September eleventh Pentagon Staff Memorial Observance ceremony on the Pentagon courtyard on September 8, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia

(Getty Images)

“The law is largely procedural and does not spell out any penalties for lapses. Legal experts said that Austin appears to have clearly violated the rule,” the news agency noted. “Austin may have also violated internal US Department of Defense protocols.”

Who will step in if he stays out of motion?

Ms Hicks has taken on the duties of the secretary of defence since Sunday 11 February – marking the second time she has taken on his duties so far this 12 months.

During the Trump administration, a number of cupboard secretaries served in an “acting” capability – with out the Senate affirmation which is required for a everlasting secretary. Mr Austin, a retired four-star common, was confirmed by a vote of 93-2 on 22 January 2021, turning into the primary Black secretary of protection.

Before Mr Trump got here to workplace, there was little precedent when it comes to appearing protection secretaries.

“There have only been two acting defense secretaries in the 71 years since the role was created,” Defence One famous in January 2019. “Although there is little debate that the deputy secretary is the most appropriate person to fill in until the Senate can confirm a replacement … there is a fierce debate over what time limits — if any — the administration faces to nominate that person”.

The 1986 regulation referred to as the Goldwater-Nichols Act governs how prime officers are changed on the Pentagon. It states that the deputy secretary has the complete powers of the workplace at any time when the secretary’s place is vacant.

But the regulation doesn’t set time limits for the deputy’s time on the prime, and it states there are not any constraints on the authorities of the deputy after they tackle the appearing secretary function, retired two-star Marine common Arnold Punaro, who helped write the regulation, advised Defense One.