Pentagon’s top AUKUS adviser and coordinator steps down

The AUKUS alliance is steering trilateral defense technology cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abraham Denmark, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for AUKUS, left, Adm. James F. Caldwell Jr., director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, right, Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. Jonathan Mead, director-general of the Australian Submarine Agency, Royal Australian Navy Lt. William Hall, Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. Mark Hammond, Chief of Navy, and Erik Raven, Under Secretary of the Navy, pose for a photo during a United States Naval Nuclear Power School (NPS) graduation ceremony at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC), July 7, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dart D. De La Garza)

Abraham Denmark is exiting his role as the Pentagon’s senior adviser and coordinator for the AUKUS alliance, which is steering trilateral defense technology cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh announced his departure Wednesday during a press briefing.

On Thursday, Denmark posted about it on social media.

“I have stepped down as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense, where I had the honor to drive the development & implementation of #AUKUS,” he wrote on LinkedIn.


“I am deeply thankful for Secretary Austin’s leadership & confidence, and for the exceptional professionals with whom I had the honor to serve,” he added. “While my departure is bittersweet, I am excited for the future of #AUKUS.”

He also posted about the move on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Denmark held the job for nearly two years after being tapped in July 2022. He was previously senior vice president of programs and director of studies at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington. He also worked at the Pentagon during the Obama administration, serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia from 2015 to 2017.

Denmark did not disclose where he’s headed now, saying that updates on his next roles are forthcoming. The Pentagon hasn’t told DefenseScoop who will be performing the duties of senior adviser and coordinator for AUKUS following his exit.

AUKUS, which was established in 2021 to help the United States and two of its closest allies boost their high-tech military capabilities to counter China, has multiple “pillars” underpinning the partnership. Pillar one is centered around sharing advanced nuclear submarine technology with Australia. Pillar two is geared toward enhancing joint capabilities with emerging technologies including AI and autonomy, advanced cyber, hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, quantum, undersea warfare and electronic warfare.


In a statement in 2022 announcing Denmark’s hiring, the Pentagon said he was tasked to advise the secretary and “coordinate efforts across the Department to move rapidly in delivering on the promise of this historic partnership to help Australia establish a conventionally armed, nuclear powered submarine capability and to accelerate development of advanced capabilities to serve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

In his LinkedIn post Thursday, Denmark highlighted the March 2023 announcement of the so-called Pillar I Optimal Pathway by President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in San Diego, as a key development during his tenure

“I am also deeply proud of all that has been accomplished in #AUKUS Pillar II, including new innovation challenges led by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and generational changes to the U.S. export control regime with Australia and the UK that will allow seamless defense cooperation within AUKUS,” he said.

Singh said: “We want to thank Abe for his leadership, building strong coalitions, bringing us even closer to two of our closest allies, the U.K. and Australia, and for strengthening security across the Indo-Pacific. He was a key architect of the AUKUS Pillar One optimal pathway announced by the president and the prime ministers, and instrumental in developing advanced capability cooperation in AUKUS Pillar Two. On behalf of the secretary of defense, we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Updated on June 13, 2024, at 1:50 PM: This story was updated to include comments from Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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