Home INTERVIEWS Colonel (GS) Thomas RAPATZ, Defence Attaché of Austria and AMAC Dean: “The relationship between Türkiye and its defence and aerospace industries with the countries of the AMAC member attachés is based and in a positive way influenced by the support every single member gets from the AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR.”

Colonel (GS) Thomas RAPATZ, Defence Attaché of Austria and AMAC Dean: “The relationship between Türkiye and its defence and aerospace industries with the countries of the AMAC member attachés is based and in a positive way influenced by the support every single member gets from the AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR.”

by Can Kılınç

We talked with Colonel (GS) Thomas Rapatz, Defence Attaché of Austria and Ankara Military Attaché Corps (AMAC) Dean, about how he sees AMAC and the post of Dean, what will be his priorities and goals in his tenure.

MSI TDR: We would like to congratulate you for being selected as the new Dean of AMAC. We know that you give importance to how AMAC is understood and seen by stakeholders like Ministry of National Defence, Defence Industry Agency (SSB) and sector companies. So, we would like to hear from you about “what is AMAC?”, as our first question.

Colonel RAPATZ: AMAC is the Military Diplomatic Corps in Ankara and represents all military attachés from the level of Defence Attaché, Army Attaché, Naval Attaché, Air Attaché, Gendarmerie Attaché, Armament Attaché to Assistant Attaché, accredited to Türkiye according to the defence ministries and services from countries abroad they represent. AMAC is therefore a huge community represented by military attaché members from 84 different countries and currently comprising of 124 (6 of them are accredited from abroad) military attachés.

MSI TDR: You will serve as Dean of AMAC in a challenging environment, in the World and especially in our region, which is characterized by effects of COVID-19 pandemics, regional wars, economic crisis, among others. In this environment, what will be the priorities and goals, in general, during your tenure?

Colonel RAPATZ: I am here since July 2019 and we shared a lot of nice moments during receptions, conferences and military visits to units and exercises, but also a tough period during pandemic in previous two years.  I could realize that AMAC is a huge military- diplomatic community and has an important role here in Ankara. We all know the function of a dean is not only an honourable but also a very responsible position.

The term “Dean of Military Attaché Corps” means the Attaché Corps has selected one of the senior attachés as their dean to present the AMAC in various events. The dean pays office calls on unit commander and makes gift exchanges etc.. He welcomes new AMAC members in his office and has the honour to bid farewell to those who are leaving. To lead AMAC within the framework of military diplomacy and to contribute to the AMAC goals and principles of “Building Relationships through Trust, Friendship and Mutual Understanding” in this difficult time will be a challenge also in 2023.

Brigadier General Kipling V. Kahler, Defence Attaché of USA hands AMAC flag to Colonel (GS) Thomas Rapatz, Defence Attaché of Austria.

MSI TDR: In particular, what will be your priorities and goals about AMAC Members?

Colonel RAPATZ: We should consider that an attaché has to serve first for his country back home and second we should understand that military diplomats as well as diplomacy is focused on peace in the world. Diplomatic relations have been established and regulated via the Vienna Convention almost 200 years ago. Recent challenges of military-diplomatic relations are marked – above all – by high complexity and globalisation, which compel armed forces to adapt to changing needs caused by transformation processes and technology developments. The task fulfilment is also that pillar which is needed for the forces back home in order to maintain their freedom of manoeuvre.

MSI TDR: We would also like to ask you your priorities and goals about AMAC’s activities.

Colonel RAPATZ: The function of a dean is also a great opportunity in bringing different countries, cultures and different views on security topics within discussions, meetings, receptions, workshops etc. together, in order to learn more from each other and to maintain peace in the world. In this context the AMAC leadership will handle the future in this important year 2023.

The network of military attachés in foreign missions has to provide the leadership back home with relevant information on security policy at an early stage. This means information-gathering, discussions and info-sharing is a strong part of our diplomatic duty-life within our Embassies. To contribute to the AMAC goals to build on friendship, hospitality and common social life within our community is the other part of our diplomatic life here in Türkiye. In this regard I will try to lead in a good way our AMAC in future. We all are able to learn from each other and by social interactions.

The function of a dean is also a great opportunity in bringing different countries, cultures and different views on security topics within discussions, meetings, receptions, workshops etc. together, in order to learn more from each other and to maintain peace in the world. In this context the AMAC leadership will handle the future in this important year 2023.

Colonel (GS) Thomas Rapatz, Defence Attaché of Austria hands the post of AMAC Project Manager to Colonel (GS) Bart Jan A. Verbist, Defence Attaché of Belgium.

Well Developed Network with Stakeholders

MSI TDR: We would like to learn your plans about cooperation with AMAC’s stakeholders, starting with Ministry of National Defence.

Colonel RAPATZ: The network of our AMAC Community and the Turkish officials is well developed. A special thanks to FALO team and the men and women of Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) who received us as brothers in arms and made the cooperation between AMAC and the Ministry easier.

We, as AMAC members, have to work with academic experts, generals, admirals and officers of the Turkish Ministry of National Defence and TAF in order to inform in both directions subjects of importance of military diplomacy within the framework of awareness building, trainings, instructions and research activities. We also have to deal with information gathering on security issues, in order to create a solid contribution to the implementation of security policy. We as military diplomats are trained and able to transmit and to deal with first-hand classified information. To increase activities in this regard I will try to underline this with the responsible authorities in the Turkish Ministry of National Defence.

AMAC Conferences also serve as an opportunity to bring together attaches and defence and aerospace companies. Military attachés inspect an ULAQ unmanned surface vessel (USV) on the port, during AMAC Fall Conference s in Antalya, between October 19-23 2022.

MSI TDR: What are your plans about cooperation with Defence Industry Agency and the sector companies?

Colonel RAPATZ: Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, President of Defence Industry Agency, announced the priority targets for Turkish defence and aerospace industry for 2023 and mentioned a lot of new technical developments in armament and ammunition and high priority developments and projects. This means the Turkish defence and aerospace industry  is a very important sector and reflects the huge ability of Turkish experts in the field of defence.

At the same time the Turkish exports in the defence sector showed us a significant improvement compared to the previous years, so it means the sector continues the record-setting and export performance. To follow all this news and capabilities and to report on this to the leadership back home is essential for accredited attachés to Türkiye.

This information sharing may have a positive impact on bilateral business developments.

To see the single Military Attaché as an instrument or as a tool for transport relevant information to relevant authorities in their respected countries back home. This will help in any case strengthen the bilateral and multilateral relations between our countries.

Military attaches are frequently invited to military exercises in Turkey, like EFES 2022 EFES-2022 Combined Joint Live Fire Field Exercise held between May 9 – June 9 2022.

AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR Provide Relevant Information

MSI TDR: We know that you give utmost importance to both internal communication of AMAC community and relations of AMAC community with external stakeholders. You also emphasize that these communications and relations should be improved further. The AMAC Magazine, which is published in cooperation with MSI TDR and which is the official publication of AMAC Magazine, has been a platform for communication between AMAC community and its stakeholders since 2015. What would you like to tell about the role of AMAC Magazine and its sister publication MSI TDR in this process?

Colonel RAPATZ: The AMAC Magazine and the MSI TDR sister publication provide a systematic base for necessary and relevant information which is very useful for the entire Military Diplomatic Corps accredited to Türkiye. To follow on Turkish foreign and security policy and the improvements of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector is necessary for every single military attaché.  In this regard, the AMAC Magazine and the MSI TDR provide our AMAC Community with their published excellent articles useful and newest relevant information which is essential for the information flow within our AMAC community. So in this context the relationship between Türkiye and its defence and aerospace industries with the countries of the AMAC member attachés is based and in a positive way influenced by the support every single member gets from the AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR.

Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence, with military attachés attending the Distinguished Observer’s Day of the DENİZKURDU-2021 (SEAWOLF) Exercise on 4 June 2021.

MSI TDR: Which changes should we expect to see in the contents of AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR during your tenure?

Colonel RAPATZ: The common network of our AMAC Community and the AMAC Magazine is well functioning. I will try to act within the framework of military diplomacy inside our AMAC community as well as with the AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR. The common goal in establishing a web page for the AMAC community and the defence public will bring another further step to a more close cooperation this year, which is useful for both sides.

AMAC community looks forward to meet with Turkish defence and aerospace companies. The first MÜSİAD-AMAC Sectoral Cooperation Meeting was held on 23 March 2022 in Ankara.

The Goal is a Year Full of Nice Events

MSI TDR: What can you say about AMAC’s 2023 agenda? What will be the role of AMAC events for improving the communication between AMAC community and its stakeholders?

Colonel RAPATZ: We as military diplomats have the privilege to serve and to live in this beautiful country. Türkiye as a bridge between Europe and Asia is full of history and different nice landscapes and will celebrate this year it’s 100 anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

We as Military Diplomats are engaged to work for peace in the entire world and you can be sure that I together with the AMAC leading team -Vice Dean Management Board and the Executive Committee- will manage in a good way the upcoming future in AMAC.

We will try to realize together with the Turkish authorities a year full of good impressions, nice events and informative trainings.

Left to right: Mustafa Kemal Kahraman, Head of Foreign Relations Coordinator at AMAC Magazine, Ümit Bayraktar, Executive Editor of MSI TDR, Colonel (GS) Thomas Rapatz, Defence Attaché of Austria and AMAC Dean, Şebnem Asil, Business Development Coordinator at MSI TDR, and Vehbi Tunca, Executive Editor of AMAC Magazine.

MSI TDR: Do you have a message for Turkish defence and aerospace industry, regarding their relation with AMAC?

Colonel RAPATZ: To see the single Military Attaché as an instrument or as a tool for transport relevant information to relevant authorities in their respected countries back home. This will help in any case strengthen the bilateral and multilateral relations between our countries.

I look forward to a very close cooperation in this New Year and I wish the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry success and everything that goes with excellent business developments in this important year 2023.

Military attachés attending the Distinguished Observer’s Day of the DENİZKURDU-2021 (SEAWOLF), together with Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence and members of Turkish Armed Forces.

MSI TDR: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Colonel RAPATZ: There is a meaning in diplomacy: “Peace is not something that falls to you, there rather has to be an effort made to obtain it”

At the end let me express my sincere thanks for giving me the floor.

We would like to thank Colonel (GS) Thomas Rapatz, Defence Attaché of Austria and AMAC Dean, for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.

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