Pentagon Inspector General Announces Review Of Austin Going MIA
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting with Iraqi Minister of Defense Thabet al-Abbasi at the Pentagon August 7, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The inspector general of the Department of Defense (DoD) announced on Thursday a review into the handling of the secretive hospitalization of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the latest in a wave of investigations spawned out of the scandal.

Robert Storch, the Pentagon’s independent watchdog, wrote in a memo that he would examine the sufficiency of the DoD’s policies and procedures for “timely and appropriate notifications” and “effective transition” of authorities due to health or other reasons for senior leadership to be unavailable.

“The [inspector general] may revise or expand the objective and scope as the review proceeds,” Storch wrote, adding later, “We will perform the review at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. We may identify additional offices and personnel who might have information relevant to our review.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and former President Donald Trump have called for Austin to resign or be fired over the defense secretary going AWOL last week over what has since been revealed to have been a hospitalization for complications following a December procedure to treat prostate cancer.

The DoD first conceded publicly on Friday that Austin had been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on January 1, and it soon emerged that the Pentagon press corps, Congress, White House officials, and even some top DoD officials were kept in the dark for days.

Reports that followed disclosed how Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks temporarily assumed some of Austin’s duties without being informed of Austin’s hospitalization, and a Pentagon spokesman pinned the late notification to the White House on Austin’s chief of staff also being ill. White House officials revealed they did not even know about the cancer until this week.


The White House has ordered a review of Cabinet protocols while the DoD announced its own review of records and communications to examine what happened internally when Austin got hospitalized and to come up with recommendations on how to improve “timely notification” to the White House, Congress, and the public when “certain authorities” are transferred. In the GOP-led House, a panel has begun a “formal inquiry” while at least one member is trying to impeach the defense secretary.

Austin said in a statement over the weekend that he was on the mend and conceded that he could have “done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.” He added, “I commit to doing better. But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”

White House officials said this week that President Joe Biden has “complete confidence” in Austin and 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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