Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was hospitalized on the evening of January 1, 2024.
Austin was admitted due to “complications following a recent elective medical procedure.”
Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder held a press conference on Thursday and did not mention Austin’s hospitalization.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was hospitalized on the evening of January 1, 2024, but the public just learned about his admission to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday evening.
In a press statement released by the Pentagon on Friday, it was revealed that Austin was admitted due to “complications following a recent elective medical procedure.”
“He is recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today,” the statement said.
It’s unclear if Austin was incapacitated in any way that would make him unable to carry out his duties. The Pentagon’s press statement said: “At all times, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the Secretary, if required.”
Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder held a press conference on Thursday, January 4, and did not mention Austin’s hospitalization.
“This has been an evolving situation, in which we had to consider a number of factors, including medical and personal privacy issues,” a Department of Defense spokesperson said. “We are now in a position to provide updates.”
The US has provided support to Israel as it confronts Hamas and is defending critical shipping lanes by fending off Houthi threats to commercial vessels in the Red Sea and nearby waterways.
In a scathing letter to Ryder and Chris Meagher, the assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the Pentagon Press Association called the disclosure several days later an “outrage.”
“The public has the right to know when US Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia, or when duties are delegated as the result of any medical procedure,” the Pentagon Press Association wrote.
Update, January 5, 2024: This story has been updated with a comment from a Department of Defense spokesperson.
Correction: January 5, 2024: This story has been corrected to reflect the date Austin was hospitalized. He was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on January 1, 2024, not January 1, 2023.
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