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Pentagon releases summary of report into Austin hospitalization

(NewsNation) — The Pentagon released an unclassified summary of a report reviewing the actions taken to transfer command when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized in January.

Austin came under fire for failing to quickly notify President Joe Biden and Congress that he had transferred command to his deputy while he was in critical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Austin was moved to the intensive care unit following complications from a surgical procedure to treat prostate cancer.

The review examined the procedures used to transfer power and factors that may have complicated the situation. The report found Austin’s staff were limited by medical privacy laws that prevented care providers from giving them detailed information on Austin’s condition, his staff’s hesitancy to pry into a personal medical matter and the fact that Austin’s medical condition was in flux.

The report also noted a lack of standard processes around a transfer of authority could have contributed to the lack of communication.

In a memo, Austin said his office already reiterated expectations for communication to staff and issued written guidelines regarding how information is shared between his office and his deputy’s office, in case there is a sudden or unplanned transfer of authority.

His office also committed to enacting other recommendations around the transfer of authority including establishing processes for staff and creating a mandatory reporting protocol in the event of a transfer of power.

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