Austin, 70, who had previously suffered from prostate cancer, had to be hospitalized and undergo surgery in December and January. Austin initially kept his health issues a secret, even from President Joe Biden, who later publicly apologized.
Now the Pentagon reports that Austin has been re-hospitalized “due to symptoms of a sudden bladder problem.” The US defense secretary was taken to the National Army Medical Center. Walter Reed by his defense on Sunday around 2:20 pm (8:20 pm Polish time).
“The secretary retains the functions and responsibilities of his office,” U.S. Defense Department spokesman Gen. Patrick Ryder said during the first press briefing on the matter. As he said, the Deputy Secretary is ready to assume functions and responsibilities if required. “Secretary Austin was hospitalized with the necessary overt and covert communications systems to perform his duties,” he assured.
However, he later made another announcement that Austin had handed over his duties to his partner, Kathleen Hicks.
Next Tuesday, Austin was scheduled to fly to Brussels for a meeting of the Liaison Committee in Ukraine, after which he was scheduled to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers.
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