Two American officials told Reuters yesterday, Friday, that the Secretary of Defense is expected to return Lloyd Austin To the ministry the day after tomorrow, Monday, about a month after he was secretly transferred to hospital due to complications resulting from an undisclosed surgery for prostate cancer in December.
According to the agency, he was surprised White House AndCongress With the secrecy surrounding the minister’s condition and his admission to the hospital on January 1, President Joe Biden did not even know that Austin had been hospitalized until days after the first week of this month.
Austin, 70, has not yet spoken publicly about his health condition, and was scheduled to make a passing reference to it on Tuesday, but he skipped that part of his prepared remarks during an online meeting of Ukraine's military allies, which Austin joined from his home in Virginia.
Austin was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on December 22 for treatment of prostate cancer.
He returned to the hospital in early January due to complications that included a urinary tract infection. His hospitalization was not revealed until four days later, and the Pentagon did not determine the reason for his hospitalization until January 9.
Violation of protocol
Earlier yesterday, doctors at the hospital said that Austin continues to recover well and is expected to recover completely, noting that his prognosis is excellent.
Republican members called for Austin's dismissal, but the president said he still had confidence in his defense secretary.
Austin's concealment of his health status constituted a violation of the protocol adopted in similar cases, especially at a time when Washington plays a major role in several crises, as it supports Israel in Its war on GazaAnd supports Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces.
White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients requested an urgent review of the rules for cases in which senior officials are unable to carry out their duties.
The Pentagon's independent investigator general also announced an investigation with the aim of “looking into the roles, mechanisms, responsibilities and actions related to the transfer of the Secretary of Defense to the hospital between December 2023 and this January.”