Lloyd Austin

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Resumes Duties Post-Medical Procedure

Austin underwent a successful medical procedure at Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to duty.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underwent a successful medical procedure at Walter Reed Medical Center on the evening of April 24. He returned to duty after he temporarily transferred power, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder. In a statement, Ryder confirmed that the procedure was related to issues with Austin’s bladder that have been ongoing following a medical procedure to address Austin’s treatment for prostate cancer. 

As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, Austin’s previous treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center on Jan. 1 created a stir when Austin neglected to inform the White House of his cancer treatment

According to Ryder, the latest treatment was successful and minimally invasive and “is not related to his cancer diagnosis and has had no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.” Ryder anticipates “No changes in his official schedule,” including “his participation in scheduled Memorial Day events.”

As The New York Times reports, Austin briefly ceded power to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks while in surgery, the same transfer of duties that occurred in February when he underwent a non-surgical procedure to address a bladder issue. 

As ABC News reports, Austin’s transparency about his recent treatments is in stark contrast to the secrecy Austin attempted to employ on New Year’s Day, which they reported resulted in changes regarding who is notified of the Secretary of Defense’s health status, when a transfer of authority occurs, and why such a transfer takes place. 

On April 24, Maj. Gen. Ryder released a full statement: “Tonight, at approximately 6 p.m. ET, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underwent a successful, elective, and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure related to his bladder issue at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which lasted approximately 2.5 hours.”

Ryder continued, “During that period, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense and served as the Acting Secretary of Defense. Secretary Austin subsequently resumed his functions and duties as the Secretary of Defense at 8:25 p.m. ET and has returned home. No changes in his official schedule are anticipated at this time, to include his participation in scheduled Memorial Day events.”

According to the Associated Press, Austin is still expected to visit Cambodia, Singapore, and France during the week of June 4. The Cambodia appearance is an attempt by the Biden administration to warm a rather frosty relationship between the two countries, which is attributed to Cambodia’s human rights record and Cambodia’s close ties with China. 

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry told the AP that Austin’s visit represents an important step in improving relations between America and Cambodia. 

“We are now working with the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh to arrange his meetings with the Cambodian leaders,” Sounry said. “The visit will be another important step to advance the Cambodia-U.S. relations.”

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