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Biden Needs a New Secretary of Defense

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Look, we’re all very happy that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is on the mend. And it’s very nice that President Biden is ready to put this whole episode behind him.

But it’s going to stay right behind him, trailing him like a shadow.

To recap: On December 22, Austin underwent what the Pentagon says was an “elective” medical procedure, and was home from Walter Reed Hospital the next day. On January 1, he began experiencing severe pain and was checked into Walter Reed’s ICU. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks was apparently on vacation in Puerto Rico when she was informed that if a defense secretary’s signature was needed during this time, it would be hers. For three days, the president of the United States was kept in the dark, as were senior Pentagon officials and the National Security Council. It was also during one of those days when a U.S. strike in Iraq killed an Iranian militia leader involved in recent attacks on U.S. forces in the region.

The disappearance of a wartime secretary of defense after having elective surgery is not a regular occurrence. The manner in which it was handled was a flamboyant breach of protocol and humiliating to the president.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the incident, the proper course of action isn’t exactly a mystery: Lloyd Austin, four-star general, member…



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