Jan 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Pentagon to review procedures after Austin's secret hospitalization

Lloyd Austin testifies at a Senate Appropriations Committee

Lloyd Austin testifies at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in Oct. 2023. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General will review procedures related to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's recent hospitalization and determine whether they are sufficient for such cases going forward.

Why it matters: The secrecy surrounding Austin's hospitalization spurred days of controversy and calls for his resignation from members of both parties.

State of play: Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch announced the plans for a policy review in a memorandum Thursday.

  • It will also look into whether the current policies and procedures are enough to "ensure timely and appropriate notifications" as well as transitions of authority, Storch wrote.
  • The Pentagon's Office of Inspector General plans to perform the review at the Office of the Secretary of Defense but may identify other personnel or offices with relevant information along the way.
  • The memorandum — addressed to Austin, the deputy secretary of defense, and the director of administration and management — asks each recipient to designate a staff member as a point of conduct for the review within five days.

The big picture: Although Austin remains hospitalized, the Pentagon announced Monday that he had resumed the full duties of his office.

  • It was revealed earlier this week that Austin's hospitalization was due to complications from a procedure to treat prostate cancer.
  • The White House — which was not notified for days following Austin's Jan. 1 hospitalization — has said that it has no plans to oust the Defense Secretary.
  • However, the White House has order a review of Cabinet protocols for delegating authority.

Go deeper: Austin's hospitalization due to complications from prostate cancer treatment

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