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DOD inspector general to investigate communication breakdown

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The Department of Defense inspector general plans to look into a communication breakdown after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization.

The decision comes after Austin underwent treatment for prostate cancer in late December before returning to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, with complications days later. Questions about who was notified and when emerged after the Department of Defense revealed Austin, 70, had been in the hospital.

The Defense Department didn’t properly notify President Joe Biden and other officials about the matter.

The Department of Defense Inspector General sent a memo Wednesday notifying officials of the planned review.

“The objective of the review is to examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities, and actions related to the Secretary of Defense’s hospitalization in December 2023 – January 2024, and assess whether the DoD’s policies and procedures are sufficient to ensure timely and appropriate notifications and the effective transition of authorities as may be warranted due to health-based or other unavailability of senior leadership,” according to the memo.

The Department of Defense’s director of administration and management also plans to conduct a 30-day review of the notification process.

“It’s also important to allow both of these reviews to run their course so that we can assure a full accounting of the facts and importantly to ensure that we can most effectively improve processes and procedures as necessary, as well as meet the standards of transparency expected by the American public, Congress and the news media,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said.

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