70-year-old US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who was hospitalized in Washington due to bladder problems, has transferred the duties of his office to Deputy Pentagon Chief Kathleen Hicks.
This was stated by Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder, according to Reuters.
According to the official at the briefing, Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for treatment of "symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue".
Earlier, it was reported that the head of the US Defense Department retains the functions and responsibilities of his office.
At the same time, the Pentagon said that the deputy secretary "is ready to assume the functions and responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense, if necessary".
According to Ryder, Austin arrived at the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that Kathleen Hicks has been given authority by the head of the Pentagon due to Austin's health problems. In early January, she also received the right to act on behalf of her boss during the minister's previous hospitalization on New Year's Eve.
Kathleen Anne Holland Hicks has been serving as the Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Defense since 2021. She is the first woman to be confirmed by the Senate in this position and is the highest-ranking woman currently serving in the US Department of Defense.
Previously, she was the first Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Barack Obama administration. Prior to 2020, she served as a US National Security Advisor and Senior Vice President, and Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As a reminder, on February 11, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is hospitalized again due to bladder problems.