Pentagon: Defense Secretary Austin Was Treated For Prostate Cancer


The Pentagon acknowledged Tuesday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was treated for prostate cancer and his recent hospitalization was due to complications from a urinary tract infection.

The statement was issued a day after both the White House and Pentagon said they were reviewing the circumstances surrounding Austin’s hospitalization last week and the lack of notification to White House officials that Austin had transferred authority to his deputy.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the review would examine what rules or procedures were not followed so they can “try to learn from this experience.”

A Pentagon memo released late Monday said the Defense Department would carry out a 30-day review including the timeline of events and notifications since Austin’s hospitalization, the process for determining when the secretary is unable to perform his duties and recommendations for improving the process of notifying senior leaders.

“This review will help to ensure clarity and transparency when a determination has been made that certain authorities have been transferred, and that proper and timely notification has been made to the President and White House and, as appropriate, the United States Congress and the American public,” Austin’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen said in the memo.

For now, any transfer of authority will trigger notifications to a wider array of officials, including the Pentagon’s general counsel, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commanders, service secretaries, the service chiefs of staff, the White House Situation Room, and the senior staff of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Austin, just below President Joe Biden at the top of the chain of command of the U.S. military, developed complications from what has been described as an elective medical procedure he had on December 22 and was hospitalized on January 1.

Pentagon press secretary Major General Patrick Ryder said that at “no time was national security in jeopardy” because of Austin’s hospitalization, although his duties were transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks during some of his hospitalization.

The spokesperson said Austin “has no plans to resign.”

“He continues to stay focused on conducting his duties as the secretary,” Ryder said, and is receiving operational and intelligence reports.

The spokesperson said Austin is no longer in the intensive care unit but is still at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center “in a more private area of the hospital.” Ryder said the defense chief “continues to experience discomfort, but his prognosis is good.”

For days, the 70-year-old Austin never told Biden or had the Pentagon announce his hospitalization, which would be commonplace for figures at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Austin said Saturday that he took “full responsibility” for the secrecy over his hospitalization.

But top Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, the leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate to face Biden in the November presidential election, called for Austin’s dismissal.

Austin should be fired for his “improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty,” Trump said.

“He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Republican Representative Elise Stefanik also called for Austin’s dismissal, saying in a statement, “There must be full accountability beginning with the immediate resignation of Secretary Austin and those that lied for him and a congressional investigation into this dangerous dereliction of duty.”

Officials disclosed Sunday that Austin’s hospitalization was kept far more secret than previously known, including from Hicks, his Pentagon deputy. Austin’s duties require him to be available at a moment’s notice to respond to any military or national security crisis.

Kirby on Sunday said he had no information on the nature of Austin’s medical issue, but that Biden and Austin had talked in recent days.

“There is no plan for anything other than for Secretary Austin to stay in the job,” Kirby told reporters.


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