How a massive misjudgment about a minor medical procedure mushroomed into a major debacle for Lloyd Austin

BROKEN CHAIN: For at least three days last week, maybe five, the second link in the U.S. military chain of command, the man the president would call to order military action in a crisis, was missing in action with no explanation. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in what appears to be an effort to keep his personal medical concerns private, entered the hospital the Friday before Christmas for what was described as an “elective medical procedure.” Austin apparently believed he could have minor surgery and be out the next day and no one would be the wiser. But then it got complicated. As in complications from the procedure, which forced Austin back to the hospital on Monday, Jan. 1, and the Pentagon to fess up late on Friday.

At first, it seemed only the press and the public had been kept in the dark, which provoked howls of protest from
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