US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has been battling prostate cancer, was admitted to an intensive care unit after being hospitalized for an “urgent bladder problem, the Pentagon reported, according to AFP.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks “assumes duties and responsibilities,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement.
Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and recently underwent surgery.
The Defense Secretary disappeared from the public scene in late December and again in early January after suffering complications from cancer treatment. He initially hid the diagnosis and treatment from President Joe Biden and the rest of the government.
The Defense Secretary apologized earlier this month after being heavily criticized for keeping the previous hospitalizations a secret.
“I should have informed the president of my cancer diagnosis,” he emphasized a few days ago in front of reporters.
At the time, he said he was still recovering; his legs hurt, and he used a golf cart to get around the Pentagon.
This incident occurred at a significant moment for the United States, which is facing a crisis in the Middle East, in Iraq and Syria, and other difficulties.
Austin was also a key player in the war in Ukraine.
Many Republican lawmakers have previously called for Austin’s ouster, but Biden, while regretting the Pentagon chief’s wrong decision, said he remains confident in his defense secretary.