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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin transfers powers to deputy after being hospitalized anew

Austin was scheduled to depart Tuesday for Brussels to hold a meeting of military officials coordinating aid and strategy for Ukraine war.

Published: February 11, 2024 6:09pm

Updated: February 11, 2024 8:14pm

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was returned to a hospital Sunday and transferred his powers to his deputy, a little over a month after his secret convalescence triggered controversy for the Pentagon and just days before his planned trip to Europe.

The Defense Department said Austin was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for an “emergent bladder issue,” and the White House, Congress and Joint Chiefs of Staff were alerted.

“Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties.”

Austin was scheduled to depart Tuesday for Brussels to hold a meeting of military officials coordinating aid and strategy for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion, followed by meetings at NATO. 

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