After a two-week stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III returned home on Monday. The secretary said he expects in the short term to continue his recovery at home while also performing his duties as the defense secretary.

“I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support,” Austin said in a statement released earlier this week. “I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery. Now, as I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I’m eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon.” 

According to doctors at Walter Reed, Austin underwent surgery Dec. 22 to treat prostate cancer, which had been detected earlier in the month following a routine screening. On Jan. 1, the secretary was re-admitted to Walter Reed with complications related to that earlier surgery. 

During a briefing yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, said Austin’s doctors have said the secretary is expected to make a full recovery. They also noted  that in relation to the cancer, early diagnosis and treatment led to an excellent prognosis. Austin will continue to undergo physical therapy while at home. 

Houthis Degraded 

Last week, the U.S. and U.K., with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen as part of an effort to disrupt and degrade Houthi ability to attack international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Ryder said. 

“The U.S. also conducted subsequent follow-up strikes against a radar site on Saturday … that was part of the original target list, and four anti-ship ballistic missiles yesterday … that were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, [and] which presented an imminent threat to both merchant and U.S. Navy ships in the region.” 

According to U.S. Central Command, the strike against the Houthi radar site was conducted by the USS Carney using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. 

Following the U.S. attacks on the Houthi site, Ryder said, the U.S. assessment is that Houthi capabilities have been degraded. 

“In our assessment, we hit what we intended to hit with good effects,” the general said. “The objective here was to disrupt and degrade Houthi capabilities to conduct attacks. And we believe that overall, in terms of the scope and the number of strikes that we took, we have degraded their ability to attack.” 

Ryder also said that while the department believes the strikes met their objectives, the Houthis still maintain capability and the U.S. military and its partners remain vigilant. 

“We’re going to keep working alongside our international partners,” he said. “And … we’re going to continue to do what we need to do to protect our forces, but also deter future attacks from the Houthis.” 

According to U.S. Centcom, Iranian-backed Houthi militants have attempted to attack and harass vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden 28 times since Nov. 19. 

Search Continues for Lost Navy SEALs 

Last Thursday, Centcom naval forces, including U.S. Navy SEALs, seized Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missile components from a vessel operating in the Arabian Sea near the coast of Somalia. According to Centcom, this was the first seizure of lethal, Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis since the beginning of Houthi attacks November 2023. 

During that action, two U.S. Navy SEALs were lost at sea. Centcom continues to search for those lost SEALs, Ryder said. 

“On the search and rescue, Centcom continues to lead that effort,” he said. “It is ongoing, certainly. We hope that we are able to recover our teammates. Our thoughts and prayers are clearly with their families at this time.” 

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