Pentagon investigation into Lloyd Austin's controversial hospitalization

Pentagon investigation into Lloyd Austin's controversial hospitalization

The Pentagon as seen from the sky in Washington, United States, March 3, 2022.
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The US Department of Defense will begin an independent investigation into two secret hospitalizations of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is suffering from prostate cancer, according to an internal memo issued on Thursday, January 11. “The aim of this review is to examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities and procedures relating to the Secretary of Defense's admission to hospital between December 2023 and January 2024.», which is specified in the text.

Lloyd Austin, 70, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December. He underwent surgery on December 22, under general anesthesia, and was hospitalized again from January 1 due to complications. This diagnosis dates back more than a month, and these two cases in the hospital were only reported to the highest authorities in the country, starting with Democratic President Joe Biden, in recent days, which caused an uproar in the press and among Republicans in the middle. From an election year.

The Pentagon's investigation, which will be led by an independent inspector general, is also expected to evaluate whether current procedures within the Defense Department are sound.Adequate to ensure timely and appropriate notifications and effective transfer of authority in the event of illness or unavailability of senior officials», according to the internal memo.

This controversy, extremely embarrassing for the head of state, comes at a time when the world's leading military power is involved in several major conflicts, from Ukraine to the Middle East. By supporting Kiev against Russia, and Israel against Palestinian Hamas, Washington, whose forces are regularly under attack in Iraq and Syria, seeks to rally its international partners against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who threaten shipping in the Red Sea.

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White House Review

In this context, the White House acknowledged that the unannounced treatment of one of the country's senior military officials was not a case.idealIf the president maintains…trust» With regard to his minister, according to his spokesman, the White House also ordered a review of the rules applied in the event of the inability of senior officials.

Republicans called for Lloyd Austin's departure, including former President Donald Trump, a potential rival to Joe Biden in next November's elections. Many Democrats also expressed their concern about this situation, but only one of them called on the minister to leave his position.

Joe Biden has long been reluctant to fire senior officials, to avoid the reshuffles and crises recurring under Trump. Joe Biden in particular has clung to his national security adviser Jake Sullivan despite the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, with the Taliban seizing Kabul.

While Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized, he remains in contact with his teams and stays informed of operations, according to the Pentagon. After he was admitted to the hospital on January 1, his assistant, Kathleen Hicks, took over for a few days, making decisions.”pattern“.

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