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Defence Secretary Transfers Duties to Deputy Secretary

Defence Secretary Transfers Duties to Deputy Secretary

The Pentagon announced Austin's health conditions, emphasising that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress had been notified. Secretary Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December and hospitalised on December 22 for a related procedure. He delegated his authority to Deputy Secretary of Defence Hicks the next day, but neither she nor President Biden were informed that Austin was in the hospital. On January 1, he was hospitalised again due to complications from the first procedure. Biden did not learn about the hospitalisation until January 4. The defence secretary is one of the most important members of the cabinet, ranking just below the president in the chain of command for the United States military. Secretary Austin had surgery late last year to treat his cancer. 

Secretary Austin, 70, is in the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Maryland. Officials said it's unclear how long he'll be in the hospital. 

He was due to travel to Brussels this week for a Wednesday meeting on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.