US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been admitted to hospital with symptoms suggesting an “emerging bladder problem”, the Pentagon has confirmed.
A news release said Mr. Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland at approximately 2:20 p.m.
The 70-year-old “retains the functions and duties of his office,” the Pentagon added, with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks on standby if necessary.
Mr. Austin is just below the president in the military chain of command and must be available to respond immediately to any crisis.
The White House and Congress have been informed, as have the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the statement said.
He adds that Mr. Austin went to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to carry out his job.
The Defense Secretary was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December and underwent surgery on December 22. but he didn’t tell President Joe Biden or other top officials until a few days after complications forced him into intensive care on January 1.
He admitted that he “did not manage [the situation] it’s true” and said he should have told the president.
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His slow disclosure of his condition prompted an internal Pentagon review and an inspector general review of his department’s reporting processes.
Mr Austin was taken back to hospital by ambulance in severe pain 10 days after his operation.
President Biden previously said Mr Austin showed poor judgment by not telling him he was in intensive care.
However, he says he still has confidence in himself.
Mr Austin was due to leave for Brussels on February 13 to hold a meeting of the contact group on Ukraine, which he created in 2022 to coordinate military support for kyiv after the Russian invasion.
After this engagement, he was scheduled to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers.
It is unclear whether admission to hospital would change these plans.