Washington— The Pentagon stated late Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's chief of staff requested a probe into his hospitalization, passing responsibility to his deputy, and the delayed communication of top Pentagon commanders, the White House, and Congress.
Austin's chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, requested the 30-day inquiry as the Pentagon faces bipartisan criticism for its secrecy over Austin's condition and delayed disclosures.
Since the Pentagon announced late Friday that Austin had been sick since Jan. 1, information has been provided in pieces. He's at Walter Reed owing to complications from a Dec. 22 elective operation.
Magsamen was home sick last week and uninformed that Austin was hospitalized and in intensive care. The Pentagon cited her sickness as one reason the White House wasn't alerted about Austin's terrible illness for three days.
However, multiple officials, including public affairs personnel, knew Austin's health and didn't tell anybody, a procedure violation when top officials are disabled. Ryder said Chris Meagher, the Pentagon's senior civilian public relations officer, and Ryder, the press secretary, knew Austin was hospitalized on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Magsamen also instructed top authorities to notify Kathleen Hicks, Austin's deputy, without delay when Austin is hospitalized or out of reach. Hicks, who was vacationing, assumed some of Austin's duties Jan. 2 but wasn't aware Austin was in intensive care until two days later, Ryder said. Austin returned from hospital leave and reclaimed control from Hicks Jan. 5.
During the study, a timeline of events will be established, commencing with the day when Austin was transported to Walter Reed Hospital by ambulance on January 1.
As stated in the article that Magsamen penned, "This review will help to ensure clarity and transparency when it has been determined that certain authorities have been transferred." In addition, the President and the White House, as well as the United States Congress and the general people of the United States, have been provided with the required and timely notification.