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US-Secretary of Defense: Austin Remains in Office Despite Criticism of Secret Hospital Stay

The White House has confirmed that Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, will continue to hold his position, despite criticism of his lack of transparency. This was reported by “The Guardian”. Austin remained in the hospital for three days without informing the President.

The White House spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, announced that Austin maintains the trust of President Biden. Additionally, John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, told reporters on Air Force One that there is no plan to replace Austin.

Kirby emphasized that Biden respects Austin for taking responsibility for the lack of transparency. He also mentioned that there will be a review of the procedures to learn from the incident.

US Secretary of Defense Hospitalized Multiple Times

Austin was first admitted to the hospital on December 22 for an unspecified medical procedure. On New Year’s Day, he was taken to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington with “severe pain” after participating in discussions about a strike against an Iranian-supported militia leader in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Austin delegated some “operational responsibilities” to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, who was on vacation in Puerto Rico at the time. She was not informed of the reason for the delegation of these duties. She only learned of Austin’s hospitalization on Thursday, the same day National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and President Biden were informed. Austin informed Congress and issued a public statement on Friday.

Austin Takes “Full Responsibility”

In a statement on Saturday, Austin stated that he takes “full responsibility” for the secrecy of his hospital stay. No details about his health condition were disclosed.

As US Secretary of Defense, Austin is expected to be immediately available in the event of a national security crisis. “We will review whether processes and procedures need to be changed or modified so that we can learn from this incident,” said Kirby.

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