WASHINGTON (Agencies): US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on January 1 due to complications from a recent elective medical procedure, according to a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is expected to resume his full duties today.

The Defense Department had not previously disclosed that Austin was hospitalized, with Friday’s announcement prompting criticism from the Pentagon Press Association.

The press association expressed “significant concerns” in a letter to the Pentagon press secretary, stating that the public has a right to know when US Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia, or when duties are delegated as a result of any medical procedure.

The secretary’s hospitalization comes at a time when tensions are soaring in the Middle East due to the Israel-Hamas war, with Iran-backed forces in Yemen striking shipping lanes while others in Iraq and Syria are attacking US troops with rockets and drones

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