Lloyd Austin to Undergo Procedure to Address Bladder Issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III will undergo a nonsurgical procedure on Friday night to address a bladder issue, and during the hospitalization will temporarily turn over duties to his deputy, the Pentagon said on Friday.

“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,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Mr. Austin will undergo “a scheduled, elective and minimally invasive follow-up” bladder procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the statement said.

It is the latest in a string of medical procedures for Mr. Austin in recent months, and his initial secrecy surrounding them has drawn scrutiny to both him and the Pentagon.

Mr. Austin and Ms. Hicks carried out the same temporary change of duties in early February when Mr. Austin underwent a nonsurgical procedure under general anesthesia to address a bladder issue.

On Dec. 22, Mr. Austin underwent a prostatectomy, the removal of all or part of the prostate gland, to treat prostate cancer. He was released after the surgery but returned a little over a week later with an infection. He was put in intensive care, and doctors said they drained excess abdominal fluid.

Mr. Austin was widely criticized for failing to immediately disclose his illness and absence to the White House, a breach of protocol that baffled officials across the government, including at the Pentagon.

He remained hospitalized for two weeks in January and returned to the Pentagon on Jan. 29. But on Feb. 11, he was back in the hospital with continuing bladder problems, which doctors have said are not related to Mr. Austin’s earlier cancer diagnosis. He was discharged two days later.

Since then, Mr. Austin has fully returned to his duties at the Pentagon and resumed traveling overseas. On Friday morning, Mr. Austin gave the commencement address to graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and returned to the Pentagon in the afternoon to meet with Kenya’s president, William Ruto.

The Pentagon announced earlier on Friday that Mr. Austin would begin a trip next week to Singapore, Cambodia and France.

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