Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday gave his first media briefing at the Pentagon podium since suffering serious health complications.
He addressed his health and the U.S. military's response to the deadly attack in Jordan.
Austin was hospitalized in early January for complications from a procedure to treat prostate cancer. The Pentagon faced criticism for not disclosing to the president or members of Congress that Austin was hospitalized.
"Let me be crystal clear: we did not handle this right and I did not handle this right," Austin said. "I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public."
Austin said he is still recovering and receiving physical therapy.
The defense secretary's hospitalization came at a very delicate time as the U.S. found itself under attack in the Middle East. Rockets from Iranian-backed militias have been fired at ships in the Red Sea, and three soldiers were killed when a drone struck a U.S. military base in Jordan on Sunday.
Austin said he has not considered resigning due to his health issues or the distractions he may have caused by remaining private about the situation.
He added that the U.S. will respond to the attacks in Jordan, which have been blamed on the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, considered a group of Iran-backed militias.
Austin noted that the U.S. is not at war in Iran, but stated, "We will respond when we choose where we choose and how we choose."
He added that the U.S. will work to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East while also defending the U.S. and its global interests.
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