Lloyd Austin hospitalized for a bladder issue; duties transferred to deputy defense secretary

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was taken to the hospital Sunday afternoon for a bladder issue, the Defense Department said in a statement.

He transferred his duties to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks at about 4:55 p.m. Sunday, and the White House, Joint Chiefs and Congress have been notified, Pentagon Press Sec Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said.

Austin’s security detail took him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, where he retains the “unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties,” Ryder said.

The White House and Congress have been notified of his condition, along with Hicks and Gen. Charles Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Austin was still in the hospital as of Sunday evening.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin awaits the arrival of Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale at an honor cordon at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Austin underwent a minimally invasive procedure in December for his prostate cancer. He later revealed he was hospitalized for several days when the procedure resulted in a bladder infection and abdominal problems.

He publicly apologized this month for his delay in informing the White House of his hospitalization. He added that the Pentagon had introduced procedures to ensure timely notification in the future.

“I’ve learned from this experience that taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect,” Austin said at a news conference Feb. 1. “The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties, even temporarily.”

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