Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 26, 2024

Austin Transfers Duties to Deputy Defense Secretary During Medical Procedure

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin transferred his duties to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks today as he underwent a medical procedure on Friday.

Austin, who has faced health concerns in the past, was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the evening of May 26, 2024, for a non-surgical follow-up related to a previous bladder issue, as the Daily Wire reports.

Medical Leave and Delegation of Duties

Following protocol, Hicks was poised to take over the functions and responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense. She was set to act in this capacity until Austin was fit to resume his duties. In a previous incident, Austin faced severe scrutiny for not informing top officials about his hospitalization stemming from a prostate cancer procedure on Jan. 1.

The Pentagon has emphasized that Deputy Secretary Hicks would have full authority to act during Austin's medical procedure. Ryder stated, "The Secretary has determined he will be temporarily unable to perform his functions and duties during the procedure, so Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense and serve as the Acting Secretary of Defense."

Previous Health Issues and Public Apologies

Austin's history of medical issues has been publicly documented. Earlier this year, Austin reluctantly admitted his failure to communicate about his health. He was initially treated for a bladder issue at the same military medical facility in February and only resumed duties from his home on Jan. 15. This led to new guidelines by the White House aimed at enhancing transparency among Cabinet secretaries regarding the delegation of authority.

In a particularly intense House committee testimony on Feb. 29, Austin apologized for his lack of transparency. He said, "We did not handle this right, and I did not handle this right." Austin's apology extended to not notifying the president, his team, and the American public about his cancer diagnosis. He stated, "I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people."

The Path Forward

This new medical procedure comes just months after Austin faced congressional scrutiny regarding his medical disclosures. Despite his recent health challenges, Austin, who resumed work at the Pentagon on Jan. 29, has committed to improving communication about his health status.

The White House’s newly introduced guidelines are designed to prevent a recurrence of such situations. These guidelines support prompt and transparent communication whenever a high-ranking official delegates their responsibilities.

Ongoing Transparency Efforts

Austin's unyielding dedication to his role remains evident, albeit clouded by past health-related controversies. The Secretary has pointed out that his recent actions are aimed at ensuring such lapses in communication do not happen again.

Despite his health issues, Austin has vowed to lead by example. His recent moves highlight a commitment to accountability and transparency in his role. Hicks, a seasoned defense expert, is expected to maintain the stability of the Department of Defense whenever required.


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin briefly handed over his duties to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks as he underwent a medical procedure concerning a previous bladder issue. This follows Austin’s earlier health challenges, which led to new White House guidelines on transparency.

Hicks served as Acting Secretary during the treatment event. Austin’s past medical disclosures have been scrutinized, leading to a new emphasis on transparent communication within the senior leadership.

Austin expressed regret over his past handling of health disclosures, vowed to improve, and apologized to the public, and Friday's process was evidence of those efforts.

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About Ashton Snyder

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