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Defense Secretary Austin hospitalized since Monday due to complications after minor procedure: Pentagon

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(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized at a military hospital since Monday night due to complications resulting from a recent elective medical procedure, the Pentagon announced Friday night.

“On the evening of January 1, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for complications following a recent elective medical procedure,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

“He is recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today,” he added later, clarifying that Austin remains hospitalized.

Another Defense Department spokesman declined to specify what procedure was performed on Austin other than describing it as “a minor, elective procedure.”

No information was provided as to what the complications were that Austin experienced following the procedure that required his hospitalization.

“At all times, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the Secretary, if required,” he added.

When asked why it took so long for the Pentagon to disclose the hospitalization of a key figure in the Biden administration Ryder described “an evolving situation.”

“We had to consider a number of factors, including medical and personal privacy issues,” said Ryder. “We are now in a position to update you.”

Austin did not have to delegate his authorities since the deputy defense secretary, who has made routine decisions on his behalf, was automatically tasked with that responsibility, said another Defense Department spokesman.

Ryder said that prior to his hospitalization, Austin had authorized the drone strike that occurred in Baghdad that killed the leader of an Iranian-backed militia that the U.S. blames for some of the attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

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