Senator Wicker Statement on SECDEF’s Non-Answer to Senate Chain of Command Inquiry

January 22, 2024

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Republican members asked for the Department of Defense to answer basic questions about the Secretary of Defense’s failure to inform Congress and the White House that he was unable to perform his duties due to a medical absence. The senators requested an accounting of the full timeline of events over a two-week period that includes the Secretary of Defense’s initial medical procedure on December 22, 2023, and the public release of information about his condition on January 5, 2024.

The Department provided its responses by the deadline, but failed to answer all of the questions in the January 10, 2024 request.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the highest-ranking Republican on SASC, released the following statement in response:

“This response is completely unacceptable. It fails to answer specific questions we posed about the Secretary’s decisions and actions. We have given Secretary Austin and the Department every opportunity to be forthright. Their failure to provide a fully truthful accounting of events is disappointing. Something like this cannot be permitted to happen again,” Senator Wicker said.

The letter, which can be found here, gave the Department of Defense until January 19, 2024 to respond to the range of questions posited by the senators.

The Department of Defense responses can be found here.