Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin resumes duties after successful follow-up medical procedure


US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “underwent a successful, elective, minor follow-up non-surgical procedure related to a bladder problem at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center” on Friday and resumed his duties as secretary, the Pentagon announced. .

Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder said in a statement that the procedure took two and a half hours, during which his powers were temporarily transferred to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks.

Austin then resumed his duties and duties as Secretary of Defense at 8:25 p.m. ET and returned home, Ryder said.

The procedure was related to a bladder problem Austin suffered as a result of surgery he underwent to treat prostate cancer last year. Ryder announced that Austin would undergo the planned procedure earlier Friday.

The notification from Rader is part of the Pentagon’s attempt to be more transparent about Austin’s health — Austin underwent two surgeries at Walter Reed in December and January without telling the president, his vice president or the public, sparking controversy. is forHe later admitted that he should have disclosed his hospitalization She pledged to be more transparent.

“I want to be absolutely clear: We did not handle this right. And I didn’t handle that right. I had to tell the boss about my cancer diagnosis. “I also should have told my team and the American public, and I take responsibility,” Austin said last February, weeks after he was hospitalized on New Year’s Day after complications from a previous surgery he had on December 22 to treat cancer. complete. “I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”

Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1 due to complications related to his prostate cancer surgery in December, including severe abdominal, hip and leg pain. Rader said he transferred his authority to Hicks during both proceedings. But neither time was Hicks informed of why the minister had delegated his powers to her. At the time of the January 1 action, Hicks was in Puerto Rico on leave and was to exercise secretary powers from there.

A Pentagon review of Austin’s late notification of his hospitalization in January found there was no deliberate attempt to “obfuscate” the situation, but found that Austin’s staff were unwilling to share the information out of concern for privacy. The review also made a series of recommendations to improve processes related to the transfer of powers to his deputy.

The review made eight recommendations that Austin said he would implement. These mostly focus on processes and guidelines, such as requiring proposed training or communications plans to ensure that officials and their staff are aware of their responsibilities during the transfer of power. Austin also directed a review of internal reporting requirements to transfer authority from the general counsel.

Austin’s action was announced on Friday during his meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto at the Pentagon. Moments before the press release was issued, Austin and Ruto were making opening statements ahead of their bilateral meeting, expressing their interest in working closely together and recognizing the close relationship between the United States and Kenya.

This headline and story have been updated with additional details.

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