WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been released from the hospital after a two-week stay to treat complications from surgery for prostate cancer. The senior Biden administration leaders and staff were unaware of Austin's condition for weeks, as he kept his diagnosis a secret.
Austin, 70, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 22nd. During a routine screening earlier that month, doctors detected the cancer. He underwent surgery to treat the cancer and experienced an infection a week later, which led to his hospitalization on January 1st and eventual admission to intensive care.
Doctors kept him in the hospital to manage ongoing leg pain caused by the infection and to provide necessary physical therapy as part of his recovery process.
President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials were not informed of Austin's hospitalization until January 4th. Furthermore, Austin chose to disclose his cancer diagnosis on January 9th. While President Biden acknowledges Austin's lapse in judgment regarding the timing of his disclosure, he maintains his confidence in his Secretary of Defense.
Austin's Hospitalization Raises Questions and Sparks Review
Last week, while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was undergoing treatment at Walter Reed, the U.S. carried out a series of military strikes in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis. These strikes targeted numerous locations connected to the Houthis' assault on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Despite his hospitalization, Austin remained actively involved by coordinating with senior military leaders and participating in White House meetings via secure video.
Austin's secretive approach has not gone unnoticed, with members of Congress from both major parties expressing concerns. Representative Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has initiated a formal inquiry into the matter. Some have even called for Austin's resignation, although the White House has asserted that his position as Pentagon chief remains secure.
The Return of Austin to the Pentagon Office Remains Uncertain
The Uncertainty Surrounding Austin's Return to the Pentagon Office
It remains uncertain when Secretary Austin will resume his duties at the Pentagon, given the ongoing treatment for his battle with cancer. It is yet to be determined how his medical condition will impact his work, travel commitments, as well as other public engagements moving forward.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks Assumes Additional Responsibilities
During Secretary Austin's recovery period, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has dutifully taken on some of his day-to-day duties. This arrangement ensures the seamless continuation of essential tasks within the Department of Defense.
Let's remember that this transitional period allows Secretary Austin to focus on his health while maintaining operational stability within the Pentagon.