The battered Iranian military had yet to recover from its devastating defeats at Russian and British hands in the first five decades of the 19th century which resulted in the losses of large chunks of territory, notably Herat and the South Caucasus. Another issue was vehement Russian (and latent British – esp. by the early 1900s) opposition to the revival and modernization of the Iranian army.
The Iranian military by the early 1900s was poorly organized with much of its equipment obsolete and inadequately maintained. There were small numbers of modern artillery and machine guns but at wholly insufficient quantities. This meant that Imperial Russian, British and Ottoman armies could enter Iranian territory at will.