WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has spent four days in the intensive care unit since Jan. 1, NBC News reported.
Austin, 70, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on New Year's Day after developing complications from an elective medical procedure, according to a brief statement issued by the Pentagon late Friday. He is expected to resume his duties there.
Austin remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon and is “recovering well,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in an email. Austin resumed full duties Friday night. Ryder declined to comment on Austin's condition and NBC's report that he was in intensive care.
The Pentagon announced that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized since January 1
The Pentagon's delay in acknowledging that Austin was hospitalized with a serious illness represents an unusual break with the tradition of updating the media on the health of senior government officials. The Pentagon had issued quick statements about the condition of senior officials, including Austin, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
NBC News cited two administration officials as saying that Austin has not been able to perform his duties since New Year's Day. That would have left his duties to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who a senior Defense Department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told USA Today was on leave.
Hicks was in Puerto Rico and conducted routine work from there, according to NBC.
The Ministry of Defense is dealing with crises in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
On Thursday, the Pentagon ordered a drone strike on a militant in Baghdad, killing Mushtaq Jawad Kadhim al-Jawari, also known as Abu al-Taqwa. Ryder told reporters that Abu al-Taqwa actively participated in planning and carrying out attacks against American personnel.
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