US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin was recently admitted to hospital for an urgent bladder problem, which has sparked controversy due to his history of multiple hospitalizations. After being rushed to intensive care, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed the role of head of the Pentagon. Doctors have stated that the bladder issue should not affect his expected full recovery and that his prognosis for cancer remains excellent.
This hospitalization came after Lloyd Austin underwent surgery for prostate cancer, which he had kept secret from President Joe Biden until it was revealed by a whistleblower. He apologized for not informing the president and the American people about his diagnosis, stating that it was a mistake. Despite calls for his resignation, Biden expressed confidence in him and acknowledged that there was no vacancy of power or risk for the command and control of the ministry.
Lloyd Austin’s discretion in handling his health issues was motivated by his desire to maintain a reputation as a largely apolitical public servant who is comfortable with American troops. The controversy over his health problems arose while the US was closely monitoring major conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip and as US forces in Iraq and Syria were being targeted by attacks by Iranian-backed fighters. Despite this, Biden maintained his confidence in Austin, who is a key figure in the administration’s efforts to maintain support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.