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The Ottoman military had a very weak performance in World War I (1914-1918), completely defeated in the Middle Eastern theatre and ended up losing almost all of its non-Anatolia possession. This was also the case shortly before WW I, for example the Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912) and the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). However, shortly after World War I, it fought pretty succesfully against its former WW I enemies, including Greece, the United Kingdom, France and Italy (see Greco-Turkish War and Turkish War of independence, 1919-1922)

I understand that during this time the Ottoman Empire was abolished and replaced by the Republic of Turkey, but other than this, how was such rebound in military performance achieved? For example, did Turkey significantly improve its military equipment? Did it replace the officers and by chance the new ones were much better?

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    Do you call Gallipoli 'weak performance'? – Deer Hunter Nov 8 '15 at 9:35
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    Do you call the German performance in WWI weak because Germany lost all their holdings in Alsace-Lorraine, Rhinelands, Posen, and portions of Silesia and West Prussia? (link: ushmm.org/lcmedia/map/lc/image/ger71020.gif)There is always at least one loser in every war, and victors often times claim spoils. Think a bit before reading more into it than this. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 8 '15 at 15:21
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    @DeerHunter Gallipolli was probably an exception, it was a defence campaign against an amphibious landing and some say the Allies were plagued with poor planning too. The Ottomans were repeatedly defeated in other campaigns, especially against the Western Allies – Fitri Nov 8 '15 at 18:27
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    @Semaphore The Greek military was almost the same size as Turkey's, and combined with the other Allies that fought Turkey alongside Greece they more than outnumbered the Turks. Also, in the First Balkan War Turkey lost against a coalition of "small" Balkan states. – Fitri Nov 8 '15 at 18:29
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    @PieterGeerkens Germany lost them in treaties, not in the battlefield, and they had to face the main strength of all the major Entente power in the West (US, France, British Empire and its colonies). Turkey lost its Middle Eastern territories in battle, and not against the main strength of the Entente. – Fitri Nov 8 '15 at 18:33
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As @Tom Au mentions, the newly found Republic of Turkey was led by Mustafa Kemal, later named Ataturk, or the Father of the Turks. Why was he named like this? Well, i'm glad you asked:

He was a person that inspired a lot of Turks to fight for their homeland - because now they weren't fighting in some colony taken centuries ago for the glory of some perfumed fat fellow in Istanbul - they were fighting for their own country, their own villages, their own families and friends. Esprit de corps is a powerful thing, Napoleon once said(kinda).

While during WWI the army was very poor, with low morale, extremely poor training, tactics and equipment, and as a result suffered heavy losses and embarrassing defeats (yes, Gallipoli is an exception mostly due to bad planning from the Allies, insufficient support and relatively high morale on that front, again because of Kemal's rallying prowess), post-WWI the new army was with somewhat decent equipment and supplies (Soviet Russia was helping a lot with both money and armament, in exchange for Batum), and once again - high morale. They were fighting to defend what was left of their country, and it's mainly that stubbornness that prevailed.

That and the fact that the Allies didn't have the will the continue the war - only the Greeks fought on, and they weren't all that powerful on themselves, their economy unable to support long term mobilisation without foreign aid(which was not incoming, the British were the only ones that supported them, and they were afraid to act not to antagonize the French), and with extreme political problems - their King got bitten by a monkey and died, then the government changed and quickly purged to - so far - successful army.

And from then on, the Turks, fueled with Soviet arms and money and home-grown patriotism, hand the upper hand.

Source - Wikipedia, Bulgarian History taught in High School, a book about the fall of the "Sick man of Europe" in Bulgarian whose name I cannot remember for the life of me...

  • Good biographical sketch of Ataturk, but the answer to the question is implied rather than explicit.... – Mark C. Wallace Dec 1 '15 at 13:34
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In the 1920s, Turkey was led, militarily and politically by Mustapha Kemal, who was later designated as "Ataturk" or "Father of the Turks." In terms of his importance to the country, think of George Washington in the United States.

During World War I, Kemal was "working his way up," at battles like Gallipoli, which the Turks won, even while they were losing other battles. Basically, the Turks won where Kemal was in charge, and lost elsewhere. But when Kemal was made Supreme Commander, at the beginning of the War of Independence, they won just about everywhere, because he was in charge everywhere.

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The Ottoman Empire had lost the First World War, along with Austria and especially, Germany in 1918. During the immediate aftermath of the Ottoman Empire, a young and audaciously bold Fighter and Revolutionary named Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk" came on the historical scene and within 5 years, would become the next major Leader of a Post-Ottoman Turkish Republic. He would rule Turkey until the late 1930's-(for approximately 15 years).

Ataturk was a historically significant figure who essentially modernized what was a decaying, ossifying, anachronistic empire. He officially separated Mosque and State, banned publicly worn religious attire, Latinized-(and in turn, Westernized) the centuries old Arabic based Turkish script, converted the centuries old Aya Sofya Mosque/(Saint Sophia Byzantine Cathedral) into a Museum-(which exists to this day), essentially coined (or helped to coin) the name, "Istanbul" from the older, "Constantinople" and then relocated the Capital of the Turkish Republic from Istanbul, to the Central Turkish city of Ankara. He was also central to the 1923 Greco-Turkish population exchange.........(and ethnically cleansed the centuries old Greek and Armenian populations from the city of Smyrna/Izmir on the West coast of Turkey in 1922).

Ataturk had a lengthy political tenure that was highly controversial to some, though culturally transforming and welcoming for a new, as well as future generations of Turks throughout the 20th century.

All of these changes-(both laudatory......as well as lamentable), were the result of Kemal Ataturk's military skill and ingenuity. He was a fierce and determined fighter who moved up the military and political "chain of command" rather quickly. The warlike talents and skills of Kemal Ataturk were primarily motivated by his vision of a revitalized Turkish state. Ataturk "saw the writing on the wall"-(culturally and historically speaking). Had a defeated theocratic empire remained culturally unchanged, one can only speculate as to what would have materialized in geopolitical terms. However, with Ataturk's new vision of a Westernized Muslim state which partially existed in the Southeast corner of the European continent, only such a vision could have been enacted with the ferocity and determination of a mighty and rapidly renewed military machine. A military machine that was led by a Commander who had a foresighted vision, coupled with muscularity, ruthlessness pragmatism and above all.....determination.

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