The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Austin is transferring his duties to the deputy as he is hospitalized



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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin transferred his duties to his deputy as he was hospitalized for treatment of symptoms “suggesting an overt bladder problem,” according to the Pentagon.

Austin has been admitted to Walter Reed National Army Medical Center's intensive care unit, and “it is unclear how long Secretary Austin will remain in the hospital,” according to a statement released Sunday night from hospital officials.

Undersecretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks took over the top operations and duties at the Pentagon shortly before 5 p.m., Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. The White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Congress have been notified.

The swift announcement of Austin's visit to the hospital — the Pentagon's first statement released within three hours — came after Defense Secretary Admits failures to report Administration and public about his previous hospitalization.

Lloyd was taken to Walter Reed around 2:20 p.m., Ryder said.

Austin went to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems required for his duties.

Austin was there Diagnosed with prostate cancer In early December and underwent a procedure to treat cancer on December 22. That procedure required general anesthesia and an overnight stay at Walter Reed.

Then on New Year's Day he suffered complications from the surgery and returned to the hospital.

It's Austin In an undisclosed hospital, which was not disclosed to the media or to President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials for several days, raising major questions about transparency within the administration. Republicans have been sharply critical of the Pentagon's handling of Austin's illness, and the defense secretary is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee later this month about his failure to notify key government leaders.

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Austin spent two weeks in the hospital and then worked from home for two more weeks as he continued his recovery.

On February 1, in his first news conference since his hospitalization, Austin admitted that his handling of the diagnosis and hospitalization was wrong.

“We didn't manipulate this franchise, I didn't manipulate this franchise. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have told my team and the American people. And I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and the American people,” Austin said.

Last week, the Office of the Secretary of Defense completed a 30-day review of notification procedures related to the transfer of responsibilities.

At a news conference Thursday, Ryder said Austin has received the review and is reviewing it. Much of the review is classified, but Ryder said the Pentagon will try to make it as public as possible.

“We are committed to being as transparent as possible about the review, and we will have more information when the secretary's review is complete,” Ryder said.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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