Def Sec Austin Returns To Pentagon, Addresses Health Situation
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on January 29, 2024.
(Photo by JULIA NIKHINSON/AFP via Getty Images)

On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin returned to work at the Pentagon for the first time since his secretive hospitalization for complications following a procedure to treat prostate cancer.

Austin, 70, briefly addressed his health situation during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with cameras in the room to capture the remarks.

“At this important time, I’m glad to be back at the Pentagon. I feel good and am recovering well — but still recovering — and I appreciate all the good wishes that I’ve received thus far,” Austin said.

Austin also commented on the weekend drone attack on a base in Jordan, which the Biden administration has pinned on an Iran-backed militia.

“Let me start with my outrage and sorrow for the death of three brave U.S. troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded,” Austin said.

“The president and I will not tolerate attack on U.S. forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the U.S. and our troops,” he added.

The Department of Defense said Austin has been conducting his duties from home since his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on January 15, roughly two weeks after he was admitted.

Austin made his first public appearance last week on a video call when he deviated from prepared remarks and opted not to mention his condition.

Multiple inquiries began after it emerged that top Biden administration officials and Congress were kept in the dark about Austin’s health situation for days.

Some critics, including GOP lawmakers and former President Donald Trump, called for Austin’s ouster. The defense secretary said he took “full responsibility” for how disclosure was handled.


The White House released new guidelines for Cabinet secretaries, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO, to enhance transparency rules when authority is delegated to a subordinate.

Austin’s return to the Pentagon on Monday followed a Washington Post report on cancer survivors who served in the military expressing disappointment that the defense secretary did not take the opportunity to spread awareness.

White House officials have insisted that President Joe Biden has “complete confidence” in Austin, and they emphasized that the president plans to keep the secretary in place through the remainder of his term despite it being “not optimal” that the commander-in-chief and other leaders did not know what happened for so long.

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