Lloyd Austin to testify about secret hospitalization

 February 8, 2024

Top general Lloyd Austin has been ordered to appear before Congress to answer questions about his secret hospitalization, which embarrassed the White House and raised concerns about military readiness.

President Biden did not learn that Austin was in the hospital until three days after he was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center on January 1 with complications from a prostate cancer surgery.

His second-in-command, deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, was also unaware of Austin's whereabouts when she assumed some of his duties while on vacation in Puerto Rico.

Austin summoned to testify

While Austin has apologized for not being candid, he has yet to give a clear account of what took place during his hospitalization and his reasons for keeping it hidden from Biden, the highest civilian authority in the country.

Mike Rogers (R-Al.). chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has asked Austin to clear things up at a congressional hearing on February 29.

During the 911 call, Austin's staff asked the ambulance to be "subtle" and not to use their lights and sirens. At a press conference last week, Austin pointed the finger at his assistant.

"I asked my assistant to call the ambulance," he said. "I did not direct him to do anything further than just calling the ambulance. And so what he said and why he said it, I think that should come out in the review as well."

Military readiness impacted?

There are concerns that Austin's secrecy disrupted the chain of command and potentially endangered national security.

In recent weeks, a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran has escalated as the conflict between Israel and Hamas inflames the Middle East region. Three American soldiers were killed in an attack on a base in Jordan in late January.

Austin was not in charge when the Pentagon carried out an airstrike on January 4 that killed a militia leader. He said the strike was already authorized.

Austin resumed his duties on January 5th from his hospital bed, and he was discharged on January 15th.

Despite criticism, Austin has been able to keep his job with the blessing of President Biden.

"The news shook me, as I know that it shakes so many others, especially in the black community. It was a gut punch," Austin said last week.

"And frankly, my first instinct was to keep it private. I don't think it's news that I'm a pretty private guy. I never like burdening others with my problems. It's just not my way."

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