Ottoman Army (1861–1922)

Part of a series on the
Military of the
Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Army was reorganized along modern Western European lines during the Tanzimat modernization period and functioned during the decline and dissolution period that is roughly between 1861 (though as a unit First Army dates 1843) and 1918 end of World War I for Ottomans. The last reorganization occurred during Second Constitutional Era.[1]

Establishment of Modern Army

The shift from Classical Army (1451–1606) took more than a century beginning from failed attempts of Selim III (1789) to a period of Ottoman military reforms (1826–1858) and finally Abdulhamid II period. Abdulhamid II, as early as 1880 sought, and two years later secured, German assistance, which culminated in the appointment of Lt. Col. Kohlcr. However. Although the consensus that Abdulhamid favored the modernization of the Ottoman army and the professionalization of the officer was fairly general, it seems that he neglected the military during the last fifteen years of his reign, and he also cut down the military budget. The formation of Ottoman Modern Army was a slow process with ups and downs.


Combat units


Infantry was backbone of the army. Ottoman infantry assigned the function of infiltrate into the enemy lines, protect the territory gained and obtain decisive results. In battles prior to the Balkan Wars, Ottoman infantry was responsible for the 90% of the casualties inflicted, whereas 8% for the artillery and just 2% for the cavalry.


The cavalry was losing its efficiency in late 19th and early 20th century. There were three cavalry units. 1 Cav., 2 Cav. and 3 Cav. These units were the successors to the Hamidiye cavalry formations, which were disestablished on August 17, 1910. These new regiments were formed into seven cavalry brigades and three independent regiments and were composed mainly of Kurds, some rural Ottomans and an occasional Armenian.

Hamidiye light cavalry

In 1892, first time a trained and organized Kurdish force encouraged by the Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Hamidiye (cavalry). There are several reasons advanced as to why the Hamidiye light cavalry was created. They were intended to be modeled after the Caucasian Cossack Regiments (example Persian Cossack Brigade) and were firstly to patrol the Russo-Ottoman frontier[2] The Hamidiye Cavalry was in no way a cross-tribal force, despite their military appearance, organization and potential.[3] Hamidiye quickly find out that they could only be tried through a military court martial.[4] They became immune to civil administration. Realizing their immunity, they turned their into “legalized robber brigades” as they stole grain, harvested fields not of their possession, drove off herds and openly stole from shopkeepers.[5]

In 1908, after the overthrow of Sultan, the Hamidiye Cavalry was disbanded as an organized force but as they were “tribal forces” before official recognition, they stayed as “tribal forces” after dismemberment. The Hamidiye Cavalry is described as a military disappointment and a failure because of its contribution to tribal feuds.[6]

The decision to disband was after the 1908 revolution and all of the units returned to their tribes by August 17, 1910. Militarily, Ottoman General Staff stated conventional-style military discipline had always been a problem with these units which were replaced of the new reserve cavalry formations.[7]


After Balkan wars Ottoman Armies began to deploy rapid-firing guns. Artillery began to gain the importance and dominate the battlefield.

Combatant branches
Artillery (Howitzer)
Cavalry (Horse)
Cavalry (Camel)
Machine gun

Non-combatant branches


The engineering branch has two main functions. Supportive functions are removal of the physical obstacles created by the enemy, to repair the damaged bridges and facilities, building bridges and other infrastructure enable infantry operations. Offensive functions were creating obstacles to slow down the enemy, and demolishing infrastructure. Each corps had an engineering battalion and each division had an engineering company.


The communication branch was established in 1882. Its designation was 'telegraph battalion' and its main function was to operate telegraphs. In 1910 telephone was added to its functions. In 1911 wireless stations were added to the unit. First time in 1911 during Italian War a direct line between Izmir and Derne was established. Beginning 1912, Balkan wars, every Corp level unit had a 'telegraph battalion.'


The medical branch does not have a precise date. During 1908, second constitutional period, its structure included doctors, surgeons, veterinaries, pharmacists, dentists, chemists, wound-dressers and nurses. They were organized by the Health department of the Ministry of War.

Military bands

Since the early times, each regiment had its own band. In 1908, second constitutional period, there were 35 military bands in Capitol. Each army had two bands. The “Imperial Band” (mızıka-i humayun) consisted of 90 musicians.

Non-combatant branches
Engineering (Heliograph)
Engineering (Railroad)
Communication (Telephone)
Medical (Field Hospital)
Military Band

Paramilitary units

Gendarmerie was a unit which was employed on police duties (police duties among civilian populations). Gendarmerie was a paramilitary unit because not included as part of a state's formal armed forces. It was established in 1903. Organized under infantry gendarmerie and the cavalry gendarmerie. These were small units. The largest unit was the regiment. They were distributed across the administrative units under Valis. The number changed with the security needs.

From historical perspective, there was a Gendarmerie performing the same functions before 1903. Since the term Gendarmerie was noticed only in the Assignment Decrees published in the years following the Edict of Gülhane in 1839, it is assumed that the Gendarmerie organization was founded after that year, but the exact date of 'unit foundation' is not that date. Historically, there is also a manual,Asâkir-i Zaptiye Nizâmnâmesi, which was adopted in June 14 of 1869, which is accepted as the organizational foundation.[8] After 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War, Ottoman prime minister Mehmed Said Pasha decided to establish a modern law enforcement organization, and a military mission (military missions section) is formed for this task. After the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, the Gendarmerie achieved great successes, particularly in Rumelia.

In 1909, the Gendarmerie was affiliated with the Ministry of War, and its name was changed to the Gendarmerie General Command (Ottoman Turkish: Umûm Jandarma Kumandanlığı). During Word War One, specially after Battle of Sarikamish, Gendarmerie units changed hand from Vali'es (civilian authority) to War Ministry (military authority) to be combatant branch. This change effectively defined them combat units.

Paramilitary Units
Gendarmería Otomana in Macedonia
Gendarmería Otomana in Upper Reka


After the Second Constitutional Era, 1908, the Ottoman General Staff published the “Regulation on Military Organisation.” It was adopted on July 9, 1910. Army commands were replaced by “army inspectorates” of which the main responsibility was training and mobilization. The army was to be composed of three parts: regular army (nizamiye), reserve army (redif) and the home guard (müstahfız). The “corps” concept was established. Reserve divisions were to be combined into reserve corps and they were to be given artillery units. Units of the regular army would recruit soldiers through the sources of the army inspectorate they belonged to.

The strengths of the Ottoman army were at the highest echelons of its rank structure.[9] At the bottom end, its rank were tough and capable of great feats of endurance, and were famous throughout Europe for their tenacity.

Unlike the British or the Germans, the Ottomans had no long service corps of professional non-commissioned officers, which created the weakest point.[9]


An infantry division was to be composed of three infantry regiments, a sharpshooter battalion, a field artillery regiment and an army band. Divisions had operations, intelligence, judiciary, supplies, medical and veterinary departments.


Corps were composed of three divisions and other ancillary units. Corps had operations, personnel, judiciary, supplies, secretariat, veterinary, documentation, artillery, engineering and post divisions. Corps consist of 41,000 enlisted and 6,700 animals.

During this period, not based on chronological order, the corps that were established: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXV, Iraq Area, Halil, I Kaf., II Kaf., Hejaz

Fortified zones

Fortified zones had the same departments of divisions. They added documentation, artillery, engineering, communications and floodlight projectors.

During this period, not based on chronological order, the fortified zones that were established: Dardanelles, Bosporus, Chataldja, Adrianople, Smyrna, Erzurum, Kars


Army headquarters had corps level departments and also infantry department, cavalry department and field gendarmerie department.

Army Group

This construct developed late in World War I. The conflicts depleted the Army units. By uniting the Armies, Army Group was used to compensate the lost and keep the functioning.

In August 1917, the Caucasus Army Group established. It was unification of Second and Third Armies. In July 1917, the Yildirim Army Group established. It was unification of Sixth and Seventh Armies. In June 1918, the Eastern Army Group was established. This unit is composed of whatever left from Caucasus Army Group (united under third) and the Ninth Army.

General Staff

General Staff was the group of officers which were responsible for the administrative, operational and logistical needs. The general staff fulfilled the classic staff duties then in use by all major European powers and was staffed by trained general staff officers, who were selected and trained in staff procedures at the War Academy in Constantinople. After completion of the War Academy, graduates were advanced in grade over their non graduate contemporaries and immediately assigned to key billets in the army. The staff was supervised by a chief of staff and was composed of various divisions, which specialized in a variety of military fields. The most influential staff division was the Operations Division. Staff provided bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate units.

In Ottoman Army, staff officers in all levels were combatants, that is a comparison to other armies that have enlisted personal for specific tasks which were not combatant. Before Second Constitutional Era, 1908, Sultan and his high-ranking staff officers perform the main planning and activity by Ministry of War which was established in 1826. During this time, the General Staff (Erkan-ı Harbiye-i Umumiye Dairesi) was a department within the Ministry of War. It performed the recruitment, reserves, judiciary and printing military charts. Ahmet İzzet Paşa, who became the chief of general staff on August 15, 1908, was aware of the urgent need of this institution to be reformed. Ahmet İzzet Paşa’s work produced good results and he managed to provide a better and much more efficient structure for the General Staff. At the outbreak of the Balkan Wars, the General Staff was divided into seven departments and it formed the headquarters of Nazım Paşa, the acting head commander. When the war was lost, further changes were needed and these came with Enver Paşa, who on January 3, 1914 replaced Ahmet İzzet Paşa as both the minister of war and the chief of general staff.

During the course of the World War, the Ottoman General Staff had seven departments: operations, intelligence, railroads, education, military history, personnel and documentation.

Force Sustainment

LoCI was modeled on a German organizational architecture. German organization was designed to operate at friendly rear areas. Neither Ottoman nor German LoCIs were staffed or equipped to do much more than coordinate logistics and transport supplies.[11]

The history of the Transportation starts with World War I. World War I Ottoman logistics system was a pipeline that moved men and supplies from rear areas to forward stations and further distribution to front-line corps and infantry divisions. 279 officers, 119 doctors, and 12,279 men were assigned at the onset but April 14, 1915, few of these were available for point or area security.[12]

Under heavy insurgency “protected logistics areas” were created for both convoys and for fixed facilities such as hospitals and magazines. The idea of protected logistics areas were carried from Ottoman Classical Army. The protected logistic areas, when plotted on a map, gave the heavy insurgency points. These were established along the Sivas-Erzurum corridor, which carried the bulk of the Third Army’s supplies. and along the Trabzon-Erzurum corridor, which carried the army’s magazine capacity.[12]

The weak road network within the Third Army area was rapidly deteriorating in 1914. Every province had civilian road workers and they were not enough to maintain all-weather roads. The combatant units would not last more than couple days without the logistic. Increased need required the army to build up its labor services, which did transferred resources from allocated to combat to sustain the front. During World War I, European armies had ten logistic persons for one combatant.

The Ottoman labour services (amela taburu) were noncombat, so they were unarmed, as in the other armies. Only had six labour service battalions in 1914. In 1915, these were reorganized and expanded to 30 battalions which 11 (33%) were deployed on the Erzincan-Erzurum-Hasankale-Tortum corridor. In 1915 the labor battalions were an essential and absolute requirement for the function of Third Army.[13] Attrition wore the battalions down, but World War I was also hard on non-combatant unit. During 1916 at the high point of Russian advance labor battalions were targeted. In the summer of 1916, the surviving 28 (out of 33) labor battalions were reorganized into 17 (full strength) battalions.

Chief of General Staff

General Staff was organized under Chief of General Staff.

Ministry of War (War Department)

The apex of the Ottoman military structure was the Ministry of War, which had been established in 1826 with the Auspicious Incident and transformed couple times during the Ottoman military reforms. Within the ministry there were offices for procurement, combat arms, peacetime military affairs, mobilization, and for promotions.

Special Organization

The Special Organization was special forces unit established in 1913.[14] It was an organization designed to establish insurgency and, second, function as an intelligence service.[14] Instigating insurgency, conducting espionage in foreign countries, and counterespionage inside the Ottoman Empire was the function between 1913-1918.[lower-alpha 1] The institutional origin, the reason given at the strategic document, was related to the unsatisfactory result of the First Balkan War and goal was the recovery of Edirne.[15] This military organization had no precedent in Ottoman history, and it was developed direct interaction out of the counterinsurgency experiences from Macedonia and the guerrilla experiences from Libya with a handful of Ottoman officers.[15] Difference between secret service of Abdulmamit II[lower-alpha 2] was directly linked to him and did not have operational function.[lower-alpha 3] There is a controversy of burned intelligence documents of special forces, which Shaw puts the event in 1914 not later.[16] That was the day Enver became war minister and destroyed the Abdulhamit's records, probably Abdulhamit's intelligence on him. The first field operator was Süleyman Askeri, who undertook the first mission and established the field structure.[15] No actual evidence to support any claims of a dual-track structure, which means operated with both political and military goals.[15] Managed singlehandedly by Süleyman Askeri Bey from foundation to November 1914. The organization sub-management consisted of Atif Bey (Kamçil), Aziz Bey, Dr. Bahattin Sahakir, and Dr. Nazim Bey .[lower-alpha 4] Staff was organized four departments: the European Section headed by Arif Bey, the Caucasian Section headed by Captain Reza Bey, the Africa and Libya Section headed by Hüseyin Tosun Bey, and the Eastern Provinces Section headed by Dr. Sakir and Rueni Bey.[17] The headquarter was on Nur-i Osmariiye Street in Istanbul.

War Council

War Council was under Ministry of War. Established by the high-ranking staff officers during wartime to council the Sultan (Baskumandan).

After 1908, Ministry of War became part of Imperial Government. In 1908, Ministry of War's powers (high-ranking staff officers) moved to War Council, and the War Council was abolished when Enver Paşa became the minister of war. The Sultan's group of high-ranking staff officers silently removed from control. After 1908 Ministry of War became part of civilian structure, that left the General Staff to military establishment.

Minister of War (Harbiye Naziri)

The titular commander-in-chief of the Ottoman military forces was the sultan (Baskomutan). However, the minister of war fulfilled as the professional soldier. During the wartime, minister of war (Harbiye Naziri) commanded all forces under the tide of acting commander-in-chief (Baskomutan Vekili).


The modern army simplified the rank structure, but the rank system was very complex.

At the onset of second constitutional Era, 1908, among the alaylı officers there were lieutenants who were 58 years old, captains who were 65 years old and majors who were 80 years old. In 1909 reformation age limits were set (41 for lieutenant, 46 for captains, 52 for majors, 55 for lieutenant colonels, 58 for colonels, 60 for brigadier generals, 65 for generals and 68 for field marshals)

Commissioned officers

Military ranks
Müşir Field marshal
Birinci Ferik (Serdar) General
Ferik Lieutenant general
Mirliva Major general
Miralay Brigadier
Kaymakam Colonel
Binbaşı Lieutenant colonel
(Sağ Kolağası / Sol Kolağası)
Yüzbaşı Captain
Mülâzım-ı Evvel First lieutenant
Mülâzım-ı Sani Second lieutenant

Enlisted personnel

In 1908, active duty lengths were set at two years for the infantry, three years for other branches of the Army and five years for the Navy. During the course of the World War, these remained largely theoretical.

Military ranks
Non-commissioned officers
Çavuş Sergeant
Onbaşı Corporal
Nefer Private


In the Ottoman Army, the commissioned officers which receive training relating to their specific military occupational specialty or function in the military called mektepli (translated as educated) officers. There were also commissioned officers who did not receive training, but through serving at the ranks at specific period of time. These commissioned officers were called alaylı. Ottoman Empire tried to replace alaylı with mektepli officers. A majority of the officers were alaylı. Princes (by birth) and important statesmen (by position) were considered as officers without having received military training or worked through ranks. It is also true that this group may have training on leadership (Viziers, Governors, etc.) and management generalists (medicine, engineering, etc.).

Ottoman Military Academy

The Academy was formed in 1834 by Marshal Ahmed Fevzi Pasha together with Mehmed Namık Pasha, as the Mekteb-i Harbiye (Ottoman Turkish: lit. "War School"), and the first class of officers graduated in 1841. Its formation was a part of military reforms within the Ottoman Empire as it recognized the need for more educated officers to modernize its army.

Ottoman Armed Forces College

Ottoman Armed Forces College founded in 1848. It was renamed the Armed Forces College in 1964.

Ottoman Military College (Staff Officers)

In order to train Staff Officers in the same system as European armies, the 3rd and 4th years were created in the War Academy under the name of “Imperial War School of Military Sciences" General Staff Courses” in 1848. Abdülkerim Pasha was appointed as the first director of these courses. As part of the reorganization efforts of the Ottoman Army, new arrangements were implemented in 1866 for the Staff College and other Military Schools. Through these arrangements, the General Staff training was extended to three years, and with additional military courses a special emphasis was placed on exercises and hands-on training. Although being a staff officer was initially considered as a different military branch in itself, effective from 1867 new programs were implemented to train staff officers for branches like infantry, cavalry and artillery. In 1899, a new system was developed on the basis of the view that the General Staff Courses should train more officers with higher military education in addition to Staff Officers’ training. Following this principle, a greater number of officers from the Army War Academy began to be admitted to the Staff College. This process continued until 1908. Following the declaration of the Second Constitutional Period, the structure of the Staff College was rearranged with a new Staff College Regulation dated 4 August 1909. The new designation “General Staff School” passed in October,

With General Staff School, the practice of direct transition from Army War Academy to Staff College was abolished, and admission into Staff College now required two years of field service following the Army War Academy. Afterwards, the officers were subjected to examinations, and those who passed the exam were admitted into the College as Staff Officer candidates. Following the occupation of Istanbul on 16 March 1920, military schools were dissolved by the victors of the First World War; nevertheless, the Staff College was managed to continue its activities until April 1921 at the Şerif Pasha Mansion in Teşvikiye, Istanbul where it had been moved on 28 January 1919. Since all instructors and students went to Anatolia to join the National War of Independence, the Staff College was closed down.

Military missions

The French military system was used before the modern Ottoman Army developed. After defeated by Russia in the war of 1877-78, the Ottoman's reform process commenced with a fundamental revision. The German military system replaced the French one. The first German military mission arrived in Capitol in 1882. It was headed by a cavalry officer named Koehler. He was appointed as his aide-de-camp.

There were three military missions active at the turn of 1914. These were the British Naval Mission led by Admiral Limpus, the French Gendarme Mission led by General Moujen, and the German Military Mission led by Goltz.

British Military Mission

British military advisors, which were mainly naval, had rather less impact on the Ottoman navy.[18] The British naval mission established in 1912 under Admiral Arthur Henry Limpus. He was recalled in September 1914 due to increasing concern British would soon enter the war. Military mission of Ottoman navy was taken over by Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon of the Imperial German Navy. An interesting note regarding the symbolism; the Ottoman ships painted the same colors as those of the Royal Navy, and officer insignia mirrored that of the British.[19]

The British Naval Mission was led by

French Military Mission

French Gendarmerie Mission was led by General Moujen.

French military advisors were very effective. A fledgling air force began in 1912. Its history is under Ottoman Aviation Squadrons. A complete overhaul of the provincial gendarme.[18] French Gendarme Mission was led by General Moujen.

German Military Mission

The German military mission become the third most important command center (Sultan, Minister of War, Head of Mission) for the Ottoman Army.

The initial contact was established during the Balkan Wars by Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha and Minister of War Ahmed Izzet Pasha. Kaiser Wilhelm II sent General Goltz’s mission, which served two periods in Turkey within two years (8 months total).

The German mission was accredited from 27 October 1913 to 1918. General Otto Liman von Sanders, previously commander of the 22nd Division, was assigned by the Kaiser to Constantinople.[20][21] Germany considered an Ottoman-Russian war to be imminent, and Liman von Sanders was a general with excellent knowledge of the Russian armed forces. The Ottoman Empire was undecided about which side to take in a future war involving Germany, Britain and France. The 9th article of the German Military Mission stated that in case of a war the contract would be annulled.

The German Military Mission become the most important among these three. The history of German-Ottoman military relations went back to the 1880s. Grand Vizier the Sait Halim Pasha and Minister of War Ahmet Izzet Pasha were instrumental in developing the initial relations. Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz to establish the first German mission. General Goltz served two periods within two years. In the early 1914, the Ottoman Minister of War was a former military attaché to Berlin, Enver Pasha. About the same time, General Otto Liman von Sanders, was nominated to the command of the German 1st Army. 1st Army was the biggest located in the European side.

General Liman von Sanders and Enver Pasha practically shared the commander-in-chief position.

Military Missions
British Officers in the Ottoman Gendarmerie
Wilhelm Souchon of the Battle of Odessa (1914) at an inspection, later he was awarded the Pour le Mérite

Military Culture

H. G. Dwight relates witnessing an Ottoman Military burial in Istanbul and took pictures of it. H. G. Dwight says that the soldiers were from every nation (ethnicity), but they were only distinguished by their religion, in groups of "Mohammedans" and "Christians". The sermons were performed as based on the count of Bibles, Korans, and Tanakhs in provenance of the battlefield. This is what the caption of one slide reads (on the right):

One officer was left, who made to the grave-diggers and spectators a speech of a moving simplicity. "Brothers," he said, "Here are men of every nation - Turks, Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews; but they died together, on the same day, fighting under the same flag. Among us, too, are men of every nation, both Mohammedan and Christian; but we also have one flag and we pray to one God. Now, I am going to make a prayer, and when I pray let each one of you pray also, in his own language, in his own way.


Sultan Abdülhamit II became aware of the need to renew the weapons of the army in late 19th century. This coincides to the European arms industries were in rapid progress. The Ottoman Army had only obsolete weapons with low efficiency. Abdülhamit II removed the old system, but only an insignificant munitions industry developed. As a consequence, Ottoman Army relied on imports and grants from its allies for its needs of weapons and equipment. The situation is only improved with decree issued on July 3, 1910 which included the budget for purchases of arms and ammunition.


General Vidinli Tevfik Paşa, was sent to Germany analyse, select, and purchase Mauser rifles. Instead of offered rifles (Mauser M1890), Ottomans bought Mauser M1893 and M1903 in 7.65 mm caliber. In 1908, when constitutional rule was restored, the Ottoman Army had mostly basic rifles and only a few number of rapid firing ones.

The Ottoman Army had no machine gun units until early 1910 (the changes implemented in July 3, 1910). The available ones were used in warships and for coastal defense. The few number of machine guns were all Maxim-Nordenfeld Maxim gun. Following years only a hand full Hotchkiss M1909, Schwarzlose MG M.07/12 added.

Heavy weapons included light artillery and howitzers.

In 1914 Officers had mainly Browning M1903, Mauser C96 and also in some quantity Beholla, Frommer M912, Luger P08, Smith & Wesson No. 3

Infantry used two different kinds of grenades. The most commonly used offensive grenade was the German stick grenade M1915 and M1917 Stielhandgranate. There were also defensive grenades used were "ball" and "egg" shaped.

Dismantled Dardanelles Gun at Fort Nelson, Hampshire, overlooking Portsmouth
Ottoman Cannons captured by the Armenian millitia at Defense of Van (1915)
An Ottoman machine gun and troops at the Battle of Sarikamish 1915


Field, kitchen


Bayonets were made by German companies in Solingen and Suhl.

Uniforms, 1914
Uniform, standard
Uniform, winter

Disposition of Units


Disposition of the forces in 1908. First Army was in Constantinople and the Bosporus, also units in Europe and Asia Minor. The First Army also had inspectorate functions for four Redif (reserve) divisions:[22] The Second Army headquarter established in Adrianople. Its operational area was Thrace, the Dardanelles, and it had units in Europe and Asia Minor.[23] The Second Army also had inspectorate functions for six Redif (reserve) divisions and one brigade:[22] Third Army operational area was Western Rumelia, and it had units in Europe (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia) and also one in Aydın (Minor Asia).[23] The Third Army also had inspectorate functions for twelve Redif (reserve) divisions:[24] The Fourth Army's new operational area was Caucasia and its many troops were scattered along the frontier to keep an eye on the Russian Empire. It commanded the following active divisions and other units:[25] The Fourth Army also had inspectorate functions for four Redif (reserve) divisions:[22]


In 1909, on the paper, the effective 'peace' strength was estimated at 700,620 of which 583,200 were infantry 55,300 cavalry 54.720 artillery. There were 174 field and 22 mountain batteries. From that total active army (260,000) contained 320 battalions of infantry, 203 squadrons of cavalry and 248 (6 gun) batteries of artillery. The Redif, reserve, (120,000) contained 374 battalions of infantry and 666 supplemental and incomplete battalions and 48 squadrons of cavalry.


The division of the empire into seven army corps districts. These were Istanbul, Edirne, Izmir, Erzincan, Damascus, Bagdad and Sana. Also there were two independent divisions Medina and Tripoli would be supplanted and a number of divisions organized each consisting of three regiments nine battalions and a training battalion.


Disposition of the forces in 1911. 1909 military reformation included the creation of corps level headquarters. First Army was headquartered in Harbiye.[26] The Second Army was headquartered in Salonika. Responsible for the Balkans and operational control over forces in Syria and Palestine. the Second Army had the first of two inspectorates.[27] The Third Army was headquartered in Erzincan. The Fifth Army's headquarters were in Baghdad.[28] The Fifth in Syria, and had an inspectorate.


Disposition of the forces in 1912. First army in European Thrace. Second army in Balkans. Third Army in Caucasus. Fourth Army Mesopotamia. VIII Corps in Syria. XIV Corps in Arabia-Yemen

1st Army
2nd Army
3rd Arm
4th Arm
VIII Corps
XIV Corps
Disposition of Units 1912


Disposition of the forces in 1913. The original First army degraded during First Balkan Wars.


Before the Empire entered the war, the four armies divided their forces into corps and divisions such that each division had three infantry regiments and an artillery regiment. The main units were: First Army with fifteen divisions; Second Army with 4 divisions plus an independent infantry division with three infantry regiments and an artillery brigade. The second army headquarters was located in Aleppo Syria commanding two corps made up of two divisions. Third Army with nine divisions, four independent infantry regiments and four independent cavalry regiments (tribal units); and the Fourth Army with four divisions. The Redif system had been done away with, and the plan was to have reserve soldiers fill out active units rather than constitute separate units. In August 1914, of 36 infantry divisions organized, fourteen were established from scratch and were essentially new divisions. In a very short time, eight of these newly recruited divisions went through major redeployment.

By November 1914, the Second Army was moved to Istanbul and commanded the V and VI Corps, each composed of three divisions.[29] The Ottoman concentration plan shifted major forces to European Thrace and established the defense of straits. The First and Second army located in this region. The Third army acquired new supplies for a winter offense. The force in Palestine (VIII Corps) is replaced with the Army in Mesopotamia.

Izmir Fortified Area
1st, 2nd Army
3rd Arm
38 Inf.Div
4th Arm
VII Corps
Disposition of Units 1912


On March 24, 1915 5th Army and September 5, 1915 6th Army established. In February 1915 the defense of Straits was reorganized.[30] The Second Army had responsibility for the south and east coasts. It later provided troops to the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula but did not otherwise had a role.


In March 1916, the decision was made to deploy the Second Army to the Caucasus Campaign. The Second Army was made up of veterans of the Gallipoli campaign as well as two new divisions. Due to the poor state of the Ottoman rail network, it took a long period of time to move the forces.


On August 12, 1917 7th Army and On 2 October 1917 8th Army established.

The Second army was deactivated in on 4 February 1918.[31] It was later activated and commanded rear area troops including labor units in Anatolia.



  1. War minister Enver operated a guerrilla unit as an early assignment in Libya. He knew the inherent strengths and limitations. He used special organization to counter act insurgency and support his regular army.[15]
  2. Abdülhanúd’s Secret Service (Hafive) and Yildaz Palace Intelligence Service (Yildiz Is-tihbarat Teskilati). They were transferred to the ministry of security in 1909.
  3. There is a large number of cables, notes, summaries (40,000) from 1913 through 1918, which proves the military rather than a political function[15]
  4. Bahattin akir, Dr. Nazim, Omer Naji, and Hilmi Bey, were members of the special organization talked at Armenian congress at Erzurum


  1. (Erickson 2001, pp. 1)
  2. (McDowall 2004, pp. 59)
  3. (McDowall 2004, pp. 59–60)
  4. (McDowall 2004, pp. 60)
  5. (McDowall 2004, pp. 61–62)
  6. (McDowall 2004, pp. 61)
  7. (Erickson 2013, pp. 124)
  9. 1 2 (Erickson 2013, pp. 125)
  10. 1 2 David Nicolle, colour plates by Rafaelle Ruggeri, The Ottoman Army 1914-18, Men-at-Arms 269, Ospray Publishing Ltd., 1994, ISBN 1-85532-412-1, p. 14.
  11. (Erickson 2013, pp. 179)
  12. 1 2 (Erickson 2013, pp. 177)
  13. (Erickson 2013, pp. 178)
  14. 1 2 (Erickson 2013, pp. 112)
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 (Erickson 2013, pp. 113)
  16. Shaw, The Ottoman Empire in World War I, Volume I, 355
  17. (Erickson 2013, pp. 118)
  18. 1 2 (Nicolle 2008, pp. 161)
  19. (Nicolle 2008, pp. 169)
  20. The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...
  21. Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  22. 1 2 3 (Erickson 2003, pp. 19)
  23. 1 2 (Erickson 2003, pp. 17)
  24. (Erickson 2003, p. 19)
  25. (Erickson 2003, p. 17)
  26. (Erickson 2003, pp. 371–375)
  27. (Erickson 2003, pp. 375–379)
  28. (Erickson 2003, pp. 382–383)
  29. (Erickson 2001, p. 43)
  30. (Erickson 2001, p. 80)
  31. (Erickson 2001, p. 180)
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