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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to temporarily transfer duties as he undergoes medical procedure

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(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will undergo what the Pentagon is describing as “a scheduled, elective and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure related to his previously reported bladder issue” on Friday night that will lead him to temporarily transfer his authorities to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

Austin will undergo the procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, said Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, who announced the procedure in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

“The procedure is related to a bladder issue Austin suffered as a result of a surgery he underwent to treat prostate cancer earlier this year,” said Ryder.

“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,” Ryder added.

Ryder noted that the bladder issue is not related to Austin’s prostate cancer diagnosis and “has had no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.”

Ryder added that the “White House and congressional notifications have occurred.”

Friday’s announcement continues the transparency about Austin’s health and potential treatments that he committed to undertake in the wake of the controversy surrounding his secret hospitalization on New Year’s Day.

Austin had been hospitalized from complications arising from a surgical procedure he had undergone in late December to treat his prostate cancer.

Neither President Joe Biden nor his top advisors were made aware that Austin had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, that he underwent a surgical procedure to treat it, and that he had been hospitalized in early January as he suffered complications from that procedure.

While Austin remained hospitalized for days in early January, his duties had temporarily been transferred to Hicks though she was not made aware of the reason why until days later. It was after she learned that he had been hospitalized that the White House was first informed that Austin had been hospitalized for days.

The furor surrounding the lack of proper notifications led to an internal Pentagon review that resulted in changes in who should be notified of the secretary’s health status, when a transfer of authorities had occurred and why the temporary transfer was taking place.

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