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Austin still hospitalized with no return date set, Pentagon says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a joint press conference with Israel's defense minister in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Dec. 18, 2023. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
January 15, 2024

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized in good condition with no date set for his release, a Pentagon spokesman said Saturday.

Austin’s hospitalization on Jan. 1 for complications from prostate surgery and delays in notification, including to the White House, have prompted an investigation by the Department of Defense’s internal watchdog and criticism from lawmakers. President Joe Biden called the delay a lapse of judgment, but said he still has faith in Austin.

Austin, 70, is in contact with senior staff and “continues to monitor DOD’s day-to-day operations worldwide,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement.

Austin’s hospitalization has drawn particular scrutiny at a time of increased global conflict. That includes U.S. engagement in the Middle East after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants and Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas rules.

The U.S. and U.K. launched about 70 airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen early Friday in a bid to stop the Iran-backed group’s shipping attacks in the Red Sea. A follow-up attack by the U.S. on early Saturday in Yemen targeted a Houthi radar site.

Pentagon officials have said that Austin is performing his duties while at the Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington and his prognosis is good.


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