U.S. SecDef Returns To Hospital; Deputy Takes Lead

February 12, 2024

Tonight, 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.

Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut of Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was admitted on Sunday.

Why It Matters: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, 70, was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” and was later admitted to the critical care unit. How long he will remain at the hospital remains unclear. He transferred his duties to Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense. 

Additionally, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House and Congress were notified. According to a statement from the Medical Center, “The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery. His cancer prognosis remains excellent.”

Big Picture: Last month, the Pentagon received bipartisan criticism for a perceived lack of transparency with the American public and the White House over a hospital visit related to a December surgery for prostate cancer. Shortly after, the White House chief of staff ordered Cabinet heads “to notify his office if they ever can’t perform their duties …” (The Associated Press). Pres. Biden has regarded this a lapse in judgment by Sec. Austin but expressed continued confidence in him.

Lloyd is set to testify before Congress on February 29th regarding the January incident.

Read More:

Austin Taken to Hospital for Bladder Issue (The New York Times)

US Defense Secretary Austin admitted to critical care, hospital says (Reuters)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas