US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was admitted to critical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday due to an emergent bladder issue, announced Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary.
In a statement, Ryder disclosed, “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.”
Earlier in the day, the Pentagon revealed that Austin was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center around 2:20 p.m. local time.
Ryder confirmed that Austin had delegated the duties of his office to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. “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,” added Ryder.
This hospitalization follows a previous undisclosed stay in December, raising concerns and sparking controversy. Austin had experienced complications from treatment for prostate surgery on December 22, which had been initially concealed from President Joe Biden and the administration.
Addressing the previous secrecy surrounding his health, Austin apologized earlier this month, stating, “I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis.”
Despite calls from several Republican lawmakers for Austin’s removal, President Biden has expressed confidence in his defense secretary, albeit expressing disappointment over the handling of the situation.
Austin’s hospitalization comes at a crucial time as he was scheduled to depart for Brussels on Tuesday to lead a meeting of the Ukraine contact group, established in 2022 to coordinate military support for Kyiv following Russia’s invasion. Subsequently, he was also set to attend a routine meeting of NATO defense ministers. However, it remains uncertain whether his hospitalization will alter these plans.