Lloyd Austin released from hospital following ‘bladder issue’

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been released from hospital and is resuming his officials duties, after being admitted to a critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment for a bladder issue.

Mr Austin, 70, a retired four-star general and the first Black secretary of defense, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December and underwent a procedure a few days before Christmas.

He was subsequently hospitalised on New Year’s Day, though senior administration officials were not made aware for three days – prompting widespread criticism regarding a lack of communication and transparency.

On Sunday, Mr Austin was admitted to hospital once again – and this time his medical issue was widely communicated to the Biden administration and the public.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Pentagon gave a new update, saying that he had been discharged.

“Following consultation with medical staff, Secretary Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center today at approximately 3:30 pm,” the statement read.

“He is recovering well and resumed his full functions and duties today at 5 pm. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress have been notified.

“On the advice of his doctors, Secretary Austin will recuperate and perform his duties remotely from home for a period before returning to work at the Pentagon later this week. He has full access to the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”

The secretary’s doctors at Walter Reed said that he was admitted on Sunday “with discomfort and concern from a bladder issue related to his December 2023 prostate cancer surgery”.

Pentagon boss Lloyd Austin in a briefing


“His condition indicated a need for close monitoring by the critical care team and supportive care. His diagnostic evaluation identified the cause of his bladder issue and it was corrected with non-surgical procedures” on Monday, the doctors said.

The physicians added that Mr Austin “remained in good condition throughout and no longer needed critical care monitoring” as of Tuesday morning.

“He progressed well and was discharged to his home today. He is anticipated to continue his full recovery,” they said. “The bladder issue was not related to his cancer diagnosis and will have no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.”

Mr Austin, who cancelled a trip to Brussels for meetings with Nato and the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, instead hosted a virtual session from his home on Wednesday, pushing for further aid to Ukraine as it fights back against the Russian invasion.

As the war approaches its two-year mark on 24 February, Kyiv is in urgent need of ammunition and artillery as it faces rationing of its arms – even as Russia has completely changed its economic output to a war footing.

The Wilson Center noted in September 2023 that “Russia’s military expenditure has tripled compared to pre-war times. By 2023, the government intends to spend $160 billion on military needs, or 40 percent of its budget. Combined with regional and private war-related expenditures, this figure may surpass 10 percent of GDP in 2023”.

Speaking to the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a group of 50 countries providing support to Ukraine, Mr Austin said he was planning on being there in person “but I had to return to the hospital for non-surgical procedures”.

“I’m in good condition, and my cancer prognosis remains excellent,” he added.

Mr Austin said the group was working on filling Ukraine’s most acute short-term needs, such as “its urgent need for more artillery, ammunition and air defense missiles”.

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