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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to undergo procedure at Walter Reed, will transfer power to deputy

Defense Department officials said the procedure is unrelated to the secretary's earlier cancer diagnosis.
Posted at 4:15 PM, May 24, 2024

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will undergo a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday evening and will transfer power temporarily to his deputy as he continues to deal with bladder issues that arose in December following his treatment for prostate cancer, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

The procedure is elective and minimally invasive, “is not related to his cancer diagnosis and has had no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis,” Ryder said.

"The Secretary has determined he will be temporarily unable to perform his functions and duties during the procedure, so Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense and serve as the Acting Secretary of Defense," the Pentagon said in a Friday statement.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks with reporters in the hangar bay of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in December 2023.


Austin released from hospital after undisclosed cancer surgery

AP via Scripps News
12:25 PM, Jan 15, 2024

Austin was hospitalized in February for what was at the time an undisclosed cancer-related procedure. He spent two weeks in the hospital to receive treatment for complications from prostate cancer surgery.

At the time, neither Austin nor the Pentagon informed top members of the Biden administration about his hospitalization. Biden criticized what he called a lapse in judgment in the incident.

It also prompted a Congressional inquiry and review of the procedures used when cabinet members are incapacitated.