US Defense Secretary Austin back in hospital, powers transferred to deputy

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has once again been hospitalized and his powers have been temporarily transferred to his deputy secretary.

The US Defense Department revealed on Sunday that Austin was transported to a military hospital near Washington DC to be examined for "symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue."

The department says Austin is still at the hospital receiving treatment, and that about two and a half hours after his transportation, the functions and duties of his office were transferred to the deputy secretary.

In December, Austin underwent surgery for prostate cancer, and was admitted to a hospital in January for complications.

His failure to inform President Joe Biden of the surgery and the hospitalization in advance resulted in harsh criticism of the administration's crisis management.

In his latest case, Austin reportedly notified the White House, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress and others of his situation.

Austin's health issues are inevitably drawing attention as his latest hospital admission comes amid the US government's struggle to deal with security problems in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere.