February 25, 2024

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went into the hospital on Monday for complications following an elective surgery, the Pentagon announced Friday.

He was expected to resume his full duties Friday evening, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

“It was an evolving situation, and taking privacy into account,” Ryder told Military Times of the decision not to disclose Austin’s health status when he was first hospitalized.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has been filling in where necessary, Ryder said.

“The deputy has conducted some routine business for department on his behalf,” he said.

That includes a Jan. 4 strike in Iraq on a militia group tied to recent attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

The intentional lack of public disclosure comes in stark contrast to another senior leader’s recent hospitalization, when Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith suffered a heart attack in October.

In that case, the Marine Corps announced the event in an email to reporters the following day.

The Pentagon, citing privacy, did not disclose the elective surgical procedure that led to Austin’s complications.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.