US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who is battling prostate cancer, was admitted to an intensive care unit after being hospitalized for an “urgent bladder problem,” the Pentagon reported Sunday.
“Tonight, after a series of tests and evaluations, the Secretary was admitted to the intensive care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for supportive care and close monitoring,” the statement said.
The Undersecretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, “He assumed functions and duties” just before 5:00 p.m. (7 p.m. in Argentina), Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement, adding that the White House was informed of the hospitalization.
Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and recently underwent surgery.
Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and recently underwent surgery. Photo: Reuters
The Secretary of Defense disappeared from the public scene at the end of December and again in early January after suffering complications from cancer treatment, having hidden initially both diagnosis and treatment to President Joe Biden and the rest of the government.
This time, the public was alerted about two hours after Austin was sent to the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
Kathleen Hicks, a cargo
Austin was taken by his security team to the medical center “to be treated for symptoms that suggested an emerging bladder problem“said Ryder.
Kathleen Hicks. Photo: Alex Wong/ Getty/ AFP
Ryder previously said that Austin maintained “the functions and obligations of his position” but hours later he indicated that Hicks would take over the position.
“For now, It is unclear how long he will remain hospitalized. Secretary Austin,” according to a statement released later, citing doctors John Maddox and Gregory Chesnut of the hospital.
A “good prognosis”
“The current bladder problem is not expected to change his expected full recovery. His prognosis for cancer remains excellent“they added.
The Defense Secretary apologized earlier this month after being heavily criticized for keeping previous hospitalizations a secret.
Austin apologized earlier this month after coming under fire for keeping previous hospitalizations a secret. Photo: SIMON WOHLFAHRT / AFP
“I should have informed the president of my cancer diagnosis,” he told reporters on February 1.
At the time, he said he was still recovering, his legs hurt and he used a golf cart to get around the Pentagon.
These absences, as well as the current hospital stay, come at a time when the United States faces a spiraling crisis in the Middle Eastwith US forces in Iraq and Syria facing almost daily attacks from Iranian-backed fighters in retaliation for Washington's strong support for Israel.
The senior American official is also a key figure in the Biden administration's attempts to maintain support for the Ukrainian struggle against the Russian invasion, in a context in which Republican congressmen refuse to authorize new funds for military aid to kyiv.
Lloyd Austin is also a key figure in the Biden administration's attempts to maintain support for Ukraine's struggle. Photo: Reuters
Several Republican legislators They previously called for Austin's ouster, But Biden, although he regrets the Pentagon chief's error in judgment, has said that he continues to trust his Secretary of Defense.
Austin, an imposing man more than 1.80 meters tallis a very reserved person who avoids media attention, which, he said, influenced his decision to keep his cancer diagnosis a secret.
But he admitted that “accepting this type of work means losing some privacy that most of us expect.”
“The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health problems that could affect their ability to perform their duties, even temporarily,” he added.