Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin, has been inpatient at Walter Reed Hospital since January 1, following complications from an undisclosed elective medical procedure he received December 22. Austin’s Chief of Staff has ordered an investigation into to delays in informing the Commander in Chief, Congress or the Pentagon. His Chief of Staff, Kelly Magsamen, wasn’t aware he was in the hospital in intensive care as she was home sick at the time.
Information has been released in piecemeal fashion since late Friday when the Pentagon said in a brief statement that Austin had been hospitalized since Jan. 1. He remains at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center due to complicationsfrom a Dec. 22 elective procedure. He was moved out of ICU on Monday.
According to USA Today there were public affairs officials who were aware January 2 that he was in the hospital but in a breach of protocol did not inform the appropriate parties. Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks, whose responsibility it is to assume Austin’s role if he is out of range of communications or hospitalized–wasn’t told until January 3 that Austin was in Intensive Care. when she was on vacation. Apparently, he resumed his duties from the hospital on January 5.
As information continues to come out, this story will be updated. While the media is already using words like “concealed” “kept secret”, the circumstances under which he was taken by ambulance to the hospital on January 1 have not been disclosed, including whether or not he was conscious. What has been made clear is that a communication break down occurred due to several senior staff being absent at the time. The Pentagon is conducting a full review so a time line can be published and accountability established.