In principle, the salarian military is similar to the Alliance, a small volunteer army that focuses on maneuver warfare. What differentiates the salarians is not their equipment or doctrine, but their intelligence services and rules of engagement. The salarians believe that a war should be won before it begins.
Conventional wisdom holds that the salarians know everything about everyone, and this is not far from the truth. In war, the unquestioned superiority of their intelligence services allows them to use their small military to maximum effectiveness. Well before fighting breaks out, they possess complete knowledge of their enemy's positions, intentions, and timetable.
In every war the salarians have fought, they struck first and without warning. For the salarians, to know an enemy plans to attack and to let it happen is folly. To announce their own plans to attack is insanity. They find the human moral concepts of "do not fire until fired upon" and "declare a war before prosecuting it" incredibly naive. In defensive wars, they execute devastating preemptive strikes hours before the enemy's own attacks. On the offensive, they have never telegraphed their intentions with a declaration of war before attacking.
Biotics are virtually unknown in the salarian military. Those with such abilities are considered too valuable to be used as cannon fodder and assigned to the intelligence services.
While capable of defending themselves against most threats, the salarians know that they are small fish in a universe filled with sharks. As a point of survival, they have cultivated strong alliances with larger powers, particularly the turians. Though the relationship between the two species was rocky at first due to the krogan uplift fiasco, the salarians take pains to keep this relationship strong enough that anyone who might threaten them risks turian intervention.