U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a plenary session at the 19th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, Asia’s annual defense and security forum, in Singapore, Saturday, June 11, 2022.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s secret hospitalization has raised questions about who was in charge of the nation’s defense and security for over a week.Austin underwent an initial medical procedure on December 22. Then on on January 1, the defense secretary suffered severe pain and was admitted to the intensive care at Walter Reed military hospital in Maryland.Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed some of Austin’s duties on January 2 — alth0uogh she had no idea what had happened to him at that time. She was only informed of his hospitalization on January 4.The White House was also kept in the dark for days about Austin’s condition. Although General C. Q. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was told on January 2 that the Pentagon chief was in hospital, for some reason he failed to inform the White House.”This is definitely a lapse in process, the White House not being informed until several days later,” Earl Rasmussen, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with over 20 years in the US Army and International Consultant, told Sputnik.”I don’t know if it’s the Three Stooges or whatever, but we’ve got, between the different agencies we got we got [US President Joe] Biden, we got [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken, we got Austin. There’s a lack of communications, obviously, a lack of process. When I was in the military, you’d know who was responsible and who was taking over. And even if you didn’t hear from somebody you’d know that things were going to occur and going to occur in a proper way. This is a serious lapse in process and definitely needs to have a further, very detailed review of what occurred.” The affair has quickly blossomed into a scandal, with top Democrats raising concerns about Austin’s secret hospitalization and Republicans calling on the Pentagon chief to resign.”I remain concerned that vital chain of command and notification procedures were not followed while the Secretary was under medical care,” Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I) said in an official statement on Monday. “He is taking responsibility for the situation, but this was a serious incident and there needs to be transparency and accountability from the Department.”WorldIran Warns US Against ‘Adventurism’ After Parking Frigate in Red Sea12:47 GMTThe crux of the matter is that Austin virtually “vanished” at the time when Washington risked getting bogged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and subsequent Red Sea crisis. The US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, which has been taking place since December, is facing challenges as major shippers are increasingly trying to avoid the Red Sea, where Houthi insurgents are targeting Israel-linked vessels in a bid to force Tel Aviv into halting the bloodbath in Gaza. At the same time, the US is targeting pro-Palestinian Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria fanning tensions even further.In addition, the Pentagon has the Ukrainian conflict on its plate, let alone the Biden administration’s effort to militarize the Taiwan Island in a clear defiance of China’s warnings. Beijing considers Taiwan as the People’s Republic’s sovereign territory. This is against this backdrop the obvious lack of communication in the US executive branch has occurred.Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineWest Bites Bullets, Admits to ‘Striking Success’ of Russia’s Military Triumphs in Ukraine11:50 GMTStill, there is more to the Austin hospitalization case than meets the eye, according to Rasmussen: the State Department appears to have been involved in “micromanagement” when it comes to military affairs.”I actually think the State Department’s more heavily involved in military actions than they should be, but does he really care what the military leadership thinks? Maybe not… with all the stuff going on with the Middle East, with the basically failure of this operation “prosperity,” even our allies in Europe are not participating and none of the major regional powers around the Red sea are participating,” he said.Instead of bringing ‘the adults into the room’, the Biden administration appears to have complicated matters even further, the military expert said. The fiasco evokes strong memories of Team Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as the failed Ukrainian counteroffensive — funded and supported by the US and NATO.AnalysisWhy Hersh’s Nord Stream Bombshell May Become Legal Nightmare for Team Biden & Its Nordic Allies11 February 2023, 15:39 GMTPulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s story of the White House misleading CIA operatives about the Nord Stream sabotage also comes to mind. The investigative journalist said seasoned CIA veterans were seriously concerned about the Biden administration’s apparent decision to blow up the pipelines, since it could have been interpreted by Russia as a declaration of war. Reports also suggest that some Pentagon officials are also concerned about the potential risks associated with Washington’s involvement in the Kiev regime’s military campaign against Russia.”Definitely we’ve got a leadership gap and we’ve got some gaps in judgment,” Rasmussen said. “Even if there’s heavy micromanagement, which appears to be, there’s definitely a lack of communications.””We’ve got a lack of process and a lack of communications, and those things need to be seriously looked at especially in our current environment with tensions with Russia and Ukraine, we’ve got tensions in the Middle East that could explode, and easily could bring in Hezbollah and Iran. We’ve got tensions, ramping up with China as well,” he added. “It’s been a complete nightmare as far as the foreign policy aspects of this administration.””They need this major review. It’s not just the processes within the Defense Department. I would say processes within the whole executive branch and that communications aspects between the State [Department], the White House and the Defense Department,” Rasmussen concluded.AmericasCriticism Over Secrecy of Pentagon Chief’s Hospitalization Mounts as Austin ‘Takes Responsibility’7 January, 05:45 GMT