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US defense chief still working remotely from hospital

The Pentagon has no “specific date” for when Lloyd Austin will be discharged after mysterious surgery complications

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder has admitted that the US Secretary of Defense was still in hospital nearly a week after his secret “elective medical procedure” went awry, but insisted that Lloyd Austin is “recovering well” and continues to fulfill his duties.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center last Monday, but the Department of Defense revealed it to the public only on Friday, when he allegedly fully resumed his responsibilities.

“Since resuming his duties on Friday evening, the Secretary has received operational updates and has provided necessary guidance to his team. He has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor DoD’s day-to-day operations worldwide,” Ryder said in a brief update on Sunday night.


It was not only the public that was unaware of Austin’s hospitalization, but also President Biden and his administration, according to multiple officials interviewed by US media. Ryder emphasized that Austin “spoke” to Biden on Saturday, and “has also been in contact” with his deputy Kathleen Hicks, but did not clarify when exactly the White House was informed that the US defense chief was out of commission.

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Biden didn’t know Pentagon chief was in hospital – Politico

The Pentagon claimed that over the past week, Hicks “conducted some routine business” on Austin’s behalf and was fully “prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the secretary, if required.” 

However, the Pentagon’s second-in-command herself was on vacation in Puerto Rico at the time, and reportedly was not informed of the gravity of Austin’s condition until Thursday afternoon. Hicks allegedly decided not to cut her vacation short after being told that Austin was preparing to resume operational responsibilities.


The Pentagon did not provide any details about Austin’s medical condition, but an NBC News report claimed that he had spent four days in intensive care. “While we do not have a specific date for his release at this time, we will continue to provide updates… as they become available,” Ryder said on Sunday.

Amid a public outcry over the secrecy and concerns that a breach in the chain of command could have put America’s national security at risk, Austin issued a statement on Saturday, admitting that he “could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.” He insisted however, that it was his personal medical procedure and took “full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”

January 08, 2024 at 04:46AM


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