Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has assumed the secretary’s functions and duties.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been readmitted to a hospital, the Pentagon said on Feb. 11.
“Today, at approximately 2:20 pm, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said.
The deputy secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified of the hospitalization, Maj. Gen. Ryder said, following criticism over an earlier hospitalization of Mr. Austin that was kept a secret from the public and even the White House.
Mr. Austin revealed in January that he had received a prostate cancer diagnosis after experiencing complications with a urinary tract infection following surgery the previous month.
“The Deputy Secretary is prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense if required,” Maj. Gen. Ryder said in the statement. “Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”
In a second update on Sunday evening, Maj. Gen. Ryder announced that Mr. Austin had transferred his duties to his deputy.
“At approximately 4:55 pm today, Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks,” he said. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties.”