US Defense Secretary Austin is hospitalized in intensive care, hospital says From Reuters

©Reuters. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a welcoming ceremony before an annual security meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik at the Ministry of Defense in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 13, 2023. JUNG YEON- JE/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was admitted to an intensive care unit in Washington on Sunday for treatment of “symptoms suggestive of an emerging bladder problem,” officials at Walter Reed Military Medical Center said.

Austin, 70, later transferred duties of his office to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder said in a statement.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers criticized Austin last month for failing to disclose a cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalizations in December and January, including to President Joe Biden. Some prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have called for Austin to be removed from office.

The incident was an embarrassment for Biden, and Austin apologized during a televised news conference. He is scheduled to testify before Congress on Feb. 29 about the situation.

Biden, a Democrat, said he had confidence in Austin despite what the president said was an error in judgment.

With the announcement of the secretary’s trip to the hospital and the quick decision to hand over his duties to a replacement, the Pentagon appeared determined to avoid a repeat of last month’s political controversy.

It is unclear how long Austin will remain hospitalized, hospital officials said in a statement Sunday evening.

Austin’s cancer prognosis remained excellent and the bladder problem is not expected to alter his expected full recovery, officials added.

Austin, a retired four-star general who led forces in Iraq and is America’s first black defense secretary, was still in hospital last month when American forces launched a retaliatory attack on a militia leader supported by Iran in Baghdad.

There are now three separate investigations into Austin’s behavior, including one by the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office, a watchdog agency that tracks military waste, fraud and abuse. The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mike Rogers (NYSE:), called Austin to testify.

On Wednesday, Austin will travel to Brussels for a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. It was unclear whether his hospitalization would affect travel plans.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *