Austin taps Hicks to serve as acting SECDEF while he undergoes medical procedure

By Tony Bertuca / May 24, 2024 at 3:56 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to undergo an "elective and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure" related to a previous bladder ailment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland later this evening, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

“The secretary has determined he will be temporarily unable to perform his functions and duties during the procedure, so Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will assume the functions and duties of the secretary of defense and serve as the acting secretary of defense,” Ryder said.

Ryder noted that Austin’s bladder issue, first disclosed on Feb. 13, is not related to his prostate cancer diagnosis and “has had no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.”

“White House and congressional notifications have occurred,” Ryder said. “We will provide an update on Secretary Austin’s status following his medical procedure.”

Austin was criticized by Congress and White House officials earlier this year over the secrecy surrounding his emergency hospitalization and cancer diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Austin is scheduled to depart next week for the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.