STM “ThinkTech” – Turkey’s first Technology - Oriented Think Tank Launched in Ankara

Launch of Turkey’s first technology oriented think tank ‘ThinkTech’ was realized by STM with the participation of 300 distinguished guest on 23 November 2017 during the panel titled “The Priority Defense Systems and Technologies of the Operation Environment of the Future”

Date: Issue 79 - February 2018

The opening speech of the panel was addressed by the General Manager of STM Davut Yılmaz, and Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir, Retired Ambassador Mr. Sönmez Köksal, Retired Lieutenant General Alpaslan Erdoğan and Faculty Member at the International Relations Department of METU Prof. Hüseyin Bağcı gathered at the panel. “The Priority Defense Systems and Technologies of the Operation Environment of the Future” panel was moderated by the journalist Mr. Hakan Çelik. 

STM General Manager Mr. Davut Yılmaz stated that Turkey always need to build optimal solutions due to the geographical risks and problems it faces and added: “Being powerful and remaining powerful is not easy for a country. In order to achieve this, the main components building national power that are economic, political, military and geographical factors, there is a necessity to be more superior both within themselves and in total and a need to remain as such. In order to maintain this, long term strategies and reactive and particularly proactive approaches that will facilitate these strategies are required.  In order to provide such approaches, rational arguments based on concrete and data based arguments and analyses must  be presented. We are aware that the think-tanks in Turkey are active in social, cultural or geographical issues and that they generate ideas in those areas. However, a structure focusing merely on defense and security does not exist in our country. Our founding mission is set as a consultancy company. Within the framework of these basic missions, we decided to pursue a company structure. Defense and security will lie in the foundation of this structure, yet we aim to form a mechanism that embraces these areas along with all other areas within a whole.”

STM General Manager Mr. Davut Yılmaz: “With STM’s “ThinkTech”, We Aim to fill a Critical Gap in Turkey” 

Stating that they will focus on three areas of activity similar with other examples in the world, Mr. Yılmaz said: “We will be publishing periodical reports each month containing more technical issues based on defense and security areas that are our primary main theme; we will be conducting analyses and sharing them directly with the public opinion. In this respect we will have an area of activity that will specifically include the relevant institutions. Within the scope of this area of activity, there will be special simulations, analyses and implementations for the companies and institutions. Actually, we have launched two applications in this way. We have been executing one of these applications jointly with SETA which is the most significant ThinkTech foundation of our country and we will announce this with SETA when the time and place are ripe. Another activity we will conduct to this end will be the meetings based on the main theme of defense and security such as this panel we will accomplish today. We will be holding some of these open to the public such as this one we are holding today, and some will be restricted with the participation of the relevant institutions. I believe that this development will fill a crucial gap in our country and we wish that this new mechanism will bring good luck to our defense industry and to our country.”

Following the opening remarks, the panel titled as the “Priority Defense Systems and Technologies of the Operation Environment of the Future” moderated by journalist Mr. Hakan Çelik started with the participation of the Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir, Retired Ambassador Mr. Sönmez Köksal, Retired Lieutenant General Alpaslan Erdoğan and Faculty Member at the International Relations Department of METU Prof. Hüseyin Bağcı.

Taking the floor as the first panelist, Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir stressed that the decision-making mechanisms need to be fed with data and added that the availability of these mechanisms for the operation environment of the future was of vital importance. “While fulfilling the today’s operational requirements we also have to prepare ourselves for the future, identify the potential areas that would create difference and canalize our activities towards them. If we manage to obtain results from the data through big data analysis, we will be able to witness the evolution occurring in command control processes within the operation environment of the future. As a result of the analyses such as the rapidly changing environmental conditions, climate change, and the biological changes of the human beings, a quite different operation plan might be built related with the operation environment of the future. We have to assess altogether the concepts that emerge today as social engineering as a consequence of data analysis. If we intend to adopt a powerful position in the operation environment of the future with all its aspects, we seriously have to add social engineering to the physical concept of combat readiness. Population and urbanization are increasing each day. The certain parts of countries’ most fertile lands are excluded from production with the expansion of cities. On the other hand, there exist demographic structural changes due to border security issues and the increasing number of immigrants, which bring along issues such as security, food, clothing, accommodation, energy, water, education and health. Additionally, migration waves emerging in the world affect both domestic and international powers and cause power struggles and sources of terrorism caused by these factors in our present agenda. If we are speaking of a theory, we need to benefit from the analysis of human psychology and social engineering in order to figure out how these guided people are guided. We should keep in mind that social media is used extensively and that the ways of influencing people are analyzed comprehensively. As a result of the incidents that we encounter, we are able to perceive that people are easily misguided in an atmosphere where people believe that they are able to think independently,” said Prof.Demir. 

Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. Demir: “Power Generation and Energy Storage will be one of the Game Changing Parameters in the Operation Environment of the Future” 

Moreover, touching upon the importance of power generation and energy storage, Prof. Demir said, “Today we are still discussing conventional methods regarding energy. We need game changer insights and resources regarding energy. We believe that energy storage is quite crucial in respect to this issue. One of the most critical impacts of the operation environment will be the storage and transfer of power that will be employed on electronic and electromagnetic systems. When speaking of robotic systems, unmanned and smart systems, we should bear in mind that remote control systems might be a game changer concept.” 

Mentioning that the selection of material is a component that creates a difference in the balance of power, Prof. Demir said, “We are speaking of a wide chain extending from the nano-level to high strength, durable material. We need to estimate that materials capable of operating under various circumstances in space will frequently arise in the upcoming future.”

Stating that the rate of local participation in the Turkish Defense Industry increased to the level of 60%-65%, Prof. Demir added, “We strive to accomplish certain achievements in almost all of the technological components I mentioned just before. Yet, we cannot claim that these efforts are sufficient. We cannot attain different results through conducting similar processes. We need to revise our methods of combining technology with our educational system and academic life. We have to achieve certain things in a different way and we should especially avoid neglecting basic science.”

Retired Ambassador Mr. Sönmez Köksal: “The margin between War and Peace Started to Shrink” 

Taking the floor at the panel, Retired Ambassador Mr. Sönmez Köksal stated that the technology oriented think tank “ThinkTech” will be filling a critical gap in Turkey and continued, “The balance of power in the world changes constantly, when we take a look at the perspective of the years 2030-2040, certain technical and scientific developments that would turn the defense and security equation upside down will be in question. Turkey needs to peruse these changes carefully because any misconduct at that point would crucially damage our country. This structure formed under the auspices of respectable institutions such as the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and STM must correctly comprehend this mathematical and rational thinking system within the framework of Turkey’s principles and unique circumstances in order to adopt the proper decisions.” 

Expressing that the power balances between America, Russia, European Union and China revealed certain strategic study areas, Mr. Köksal added, “Space, cyber and marine transportation areas will start to gain more importance within these study areas.  Threats have started to become more individual with the developments especially in the cyber security area. The threats created by such isolated individuals start to become more dimensiontional.  developments such as nano-technology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and the internet of things do not exist merely under the state monopoly, as such there are also techniques and scientific research developed by the private sector. Therefore, the access of individuals and certain sub groups to such data will start to become more accessible. The margin between war and peace will start to shrink.”

Retired Lieutenant General Alparslan Erdoğan touched upon the impossibility of an operation environment without space systems in our times and underlined the importance of spear-heading the journey in time in order to acquire the technologies of the future through analyzing the technological concepts that penetrate all aspects of life in recent years. Mr. Erdoğan added, “The technological importance of invisible technology, artificial intelligence, armed UAV systems, Unmanned Land Vehicles and laser technologies will progressively increase. Moreover, in my opinion strategic steps in electronic warfare area should be taken as well.”

Underlining that “ThinkTech” concept has been a requirement for Turkey, Faculty Member of the International Relations Department of METU Prof. Hüseyin Bağcı added that competent and experienced staff from our home and abroad should exist in the Executive Board of ThinkTech and continued: “The person to be in charge of the think tank should be far away from politics and not be a typical academician. Instead, he should be a scientist with in-depth knowledge of international communications.”

Prof. Bağcı stated that one of the most critical responsibilities of the think tank would be establishing a data bank through coalescing all the academic areas such as mathematics and physics. 

“ThinkTech” Center to Publish Technology-Oriented Analyses and Reports in Aviation, Energy, Transportation, Education and Health Areas Apart from Defense and Security 

STM will be developing regional and global strategies, technological forecasts, potential scenarios and decision support systems with its know-how and human resources experienced in defense - security and engineering - technology with “ThinkTech”.  Offering ideological and practical contributions applicable to Turkey’s future vision, ThinkTech will be developing unique solutions through technology based analyses with an objective and constructive approach mainly in defense - security and engineering - technology, and also in aviation, energy, transportation, education and health and will publish reports with the help of its data processing capacity