US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized with an emergency bladder problem, sparking controversy over multiple hospitalizations. After being admitted to intensive care, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed the role of Pentagon chief. Doctors stated that the bladder problem should not affect his expected full recovery and that his prognosis for cancer remains excellent.
This latest hospitalization comes after Lloyd Austin previously underwent surgery for prostate cancer, which he hid from President Joe Biden. He apologized for not informing the president and the American people of his diagnosis, saying it was a mistake. Despite calls for him to resign, Biden expressed his confidence in him and acknowledged that there is no vacant power or risk to the command and control of the department.
Lloyd Austin’s discretion in handling his health problems has been attributed to his desire to avoid attention and maintain a reputation as a largely apolitical public servant comfortable with American troops. The controversy surrounding his health problems comes as the US closely monitors major conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, and as US forces in Iraq and Syria come under attack by Iran-backed fighters. Despite the controversy, Biden has retained confidence in Austin, who is a key figure in the administration’s efforts to maintain support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.