US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalised on Sunday for what officials said appeared to be an “emergent bladder issue”.
“Today, at approximately 2.20pm, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin Ill was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue. The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified. Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Pat Ryder.
“At this time, the Secretary is retaining the functions and duties of his office. 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,” Maj Gen Ryder continued. “We will provide an update on Secretary Austin's condition as soon as possible.”
The Pentagon chief’s hospitalisation is his second in just two months. In January, he underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer at Walter Reed, a process which sparked controversy throughout Washington after it was revealed that the White House had been in the dark about the condition of a Cabinet secretary — particularly the defence chief at a time of great instability throughout the Middle East.
Mr Austin apologised for that breakdown of communication later in January at a press conference after his return to duties. The Independent has reached out to the White House National Security Council for further comment on his newest hospitalisation.
It wasn’t clear on Sunday whether Mr Austin’s latest hospitalisation was directly linked to his prior treatment for prostate cancer.