Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin transferred his official duties to his deputy after returning Sunday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder
said in a statement.
That statement from Ryder, a major general, indicated that Austin “was retaining the functions and duties of his office,” but a subsequent statement said that Austin had transferred those functions and those duties to Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of Defense.
Both statements indicated that the Biden White House, members of Congress and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr.) had been notified of Austin’s latest health issue.
Austin was recently hospitalized at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland, for complications from surgery he underwent in December for prostate cancer.
At issue at the time was that Austin didn’t immediately notify other government leaders that he was hospitalized, and even the White House was not aware of where Austin was for at least a few days. “We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right.” Austin told reporters
at the Pentagon on Feb. 1.
The notifications specified in Ryder’s statement were meant to address those issues.
Austin was last released from the hospital Jan. 15. It is not known how long he might be in the hospital this time.