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Lloyd Austin Hospitalized for ‘Emergent Bladder Issue,’ Pentagon Says

U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on Sunday afternoon for an “emergent bladder issue,” according to Pentagon officials.
The Context:
Austin came under fire recently over an extended hospital stay at the beginning of the year. It was unclear at the time of publication whether his hospitalization on Sunday was related to his previous medical ailments.
At roughly 2:20 p.m., Austin 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 Major General Pat Ryder said in a statement Sunday evening.
The deputy secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified, Ryder said, adding that the White House and Congress have also been informed.
“At this time, the Secretary is retaining the functions and duties of his office,” Ryder said. “The Deputy Secretary is prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense if required. Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”
Pentagon officials said they will provide an update on Austin’s condition “as soon as possible.”
Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday night to the Department of Defense (DOD) for an update on Austin’s condition and comment.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers remarks at the Pentagon on February 7 in Arlington, Virginia. Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for an “emergent bladder issue,” according to… U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers remarks at the Pentagon on February 7 in Arlington, Virginia. Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for an “emergent bladder issue,” according to a Pentagon spokesperson. More Kevin Dietsch/Getty
What We Know:
In early January, Pentagon officials Austin announced was receiving medical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after undergoing surgery for a prostate cancer diagnosis.
However, it was later reported that President Joe Biden did not learn of Austin’s diagnosis and absence from office until several days later. On January 9, the White House said the president had not been informed until that day that his defense secretary had cancer, according to the Associated Press.
Austin initially went to the military hospital for what Ryder called an “elective procedure” on December 22, which left many people puzzled after the Pentagon press secretary released a brief statement on January 5 saying Austin was admitted four days earlier to Walter Reed for “complications” from the December procedure, the Associated Press reported. In total, he was hospitalized for about two weeks following the complications. He returned to work in person at the end of last month and said he was still recovering.
When Austin’s hospitalization was finally made public, the Pentagon Press Association issued an immediate statement condemning the lack of communication, stating: “The public has a right to know when U.S. Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia or when duties are delegated as the result of any medical procedure.”
While Pentagon officials said they did not make Austin’s absence public due to medical and privacy considerations, the defense secretary’s hospitalization led to mounting calls for Austin to be fired because of a lack of communication.
Numerous figures including former President Donald Trump have said Austin should be sacked for his uncommunicated absence, which took place as the United States is undertaking key national security roles in the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars.
“Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty. He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be,” the former president wrote on Truth Social.
“In September, I used the Holman rule to FIRE Secretary Austin,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, wrote last month on X, formerly Twitter. “He isn’t capable of leading the Department of Defense. And he just proved it again by keeping it a secret when he was very sick and in the ICU.”
On Gettr, Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon wrote: “Austin Needs to be Fired Now.”
In response to the criticism, Lloyd said in a statement last month: “I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better.”
What’s Next:
Austin was scheduled to leave on Tuesday for Brussels, Belgium, to hold a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which the secretary established in 2022 to coordinate military aid for Kyiv after Russia’s invasion, the Associated Press reported.
Following the meeting in Belgium, Austin was slated to attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers, according to the outlet. It was unclear at the time of publication whether Austin’s current hospitalization would change those plans.
Update 2/11/24, 6:16 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.



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