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Defense Secretary Austin remains hospitalized, in ‘good spirits,’ Pentagon says despite uproar over absence

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized but is recovering and is in “good spirits,” despite the uproar over the non-disclosure of his hospital stay for several days, the Pentagon said Monday. 

Austin was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, on Jan. 1 for severe pain following a Dec. 22, 2023 elective procedure. 

“He is no longer in the intensive care unit but is recovering in a more private area of the hospital,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. “He continues to experience discomfort, but his prognosis is good.” 

DEFENSE SECRETARY AUSTIN HAS NO PLANS TO RESIGN, PENTAGON SAYS

“Since resuming duties on Friday evening, the secretary has received operational updates and has provided necessary guidance,” Ryder added. “He has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor [Defense Department] day-to-day operations worldwide.” 

The day after Austin was admitted to the hospital, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks assumed partial duties from the secretary. On Jan. 4, Hicks and the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan were told of Austin’s hospitalization, the Pentagon said. 

GOP SENATORS OUTRAGED OVER ‘SHOCKING BREAKDOWN’ RELATED TO DEFENSE SEC LLOYD AUSTIN’S SECRET HOSPITALIZATION

Austin assumed his full secretarial duties on Friday. Since then, he has received operational updates and remains in contact with his staff, Ryder said. He also took an operational update from the U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Erik Kurilla along with Deputy Secretary Hicks and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown, Jr.

“I expect him to be in contact throughout the day today with senior leadership of the department and the White House even as he focuses on his own recovery,” Ryder said. “We in the department, of course, all wish him a speedy recovery,” Ryder said.

Ryder said a specific date for Austin’s release from the hospital has not been determined.

President Biden, the National Security Council and top Pentagon leaders – including Hicks, were kept in the dark for days that Austin had been taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit for treatment on New Year’s. Some congressional lawmakers have called for Austin to resign over the matter. 

Earlier on Monday, Ryder said Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, didn’t inform the White House about Austin’s hospitalization because she had been sick with the flu. 

The secretary doesn’t have plans to step down, the Pentagon said. 

   

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