Lloyd Austin requested a discreet ambulance pickup, 911 call reveals

The defense secretary has faced criticism for not promptly informing President Joe Biden and senior officials about his hospitalization.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Posted at 2:41 PM, Jan 17, 2024

Newly released audio revealed a 911 call by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s aide, seeking a discreet ambulance pickup on the day Austin’s now controversial hospitalization began.

“Can I ask — can the ambulance not show up with lights and sirens? We’re trying to remain a little subtle,” the aide said in the call placed on Jan. 1.

In the audio of the call, which was first obtained by USA Today, the dispatcher responded, "Usually, when they turn into a residential neighborhood, they’ll turn them off.”

The 70-year-old defense secretary faced criticism for not promptly informing President Joe Biden and senior officials about his hospitalization for complications following prostate cancer surgery.

News of Austin's hospitalization was first made public on Jan. 5, indicating his admission to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that took place on Jan. 1 due to “complications from a recent elective procedure." Shortly after, reports surfaced revealing that officials had not been informed of Austin's hospitalization until Jan. 4. 

The Pentagon then clarified on Jan. 7 that after a procedure on Dec. 22 and a day at home, Austin went into intensive care on Jan. 1 due to severe pain, and then on Jan. 9, his doctors finally confirmed that Austin was treated for prostate cancer. Austin spent two weeks in intensive care and was discharged on Jan. 15.

President Biden criticized Austin last week, stating that there was a lapse in judgment for not informing him about the hospitalization. Despite this, the White House said the president has no intention of dismissing Austin from his job, and he still has confidence in his Defense secretary.

Republicans, however, sent a letter to Austin last week asking the Pentagon for a clear timeline of events regarding his "incapacitation."