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Mass Effect/AEC: Salarian Military Doctrine


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Excerpt from Modern Galactic War by Paul Malthus, 3rd Edition , Made available for Extranet Scholastic Use by  The Institute of War and Diplomacy, Vancouver Metroplex, North American Union, Earth, 2190 (1st Edition published by Banabar Books in 2184).

Salarian Armed Forces

Of all the Citadel races, none practice the concept of Total War as thoroughly as the salarians. Salarian military doctrine seeks to destroy the enemy’s capability as well as their will to fight. Hence their preemptive approach to warfare. The salarians seek to control, disrupt and destroy their enemies not only at a military level but also socioeconomic level as well. This is born out of a society in which ultimate power resides with a handful of powerful female leaders. Like in the game of chess, whoever seizes their queen wins.  Failure to capture the enemy leadership in the opening moves led to prolonged periods of protracted warfare (due to the salarians rapid reproductive cycles which allowed them to make up their losses) that left the warring parties vulnerable to external attack. Over time salarian strategist developed a doctrine called the Four Strikes or S4:

  1. Strike Far: Offense is the only defense. You must always fight your enemies on their ground. Only by bringing the war to the enemy doorstep can you preserve your forces while inflicting maximum losses on the enemy. A defensive war is a lost war.
  2. Strike Fast: Speed is off the essence. One must attack the enemy at all levels, economic, political, military, simultaneously with such speed as to convince him that the war is already lost. You must dominate the tempo operations at all times.
  3. Strike Hard: Each attack must devastate the target for maximum shock effect. No half measures are allowed once you committed yourself to combat.
  4. Strike True: One must not waste one’s efforts. Accuracy is key to maximizing the effects of the Four Strikes. All is for not if one does not strike the right target, at the right time with the right weapon(s).

This doctrine requires real-time intelligence of an enemy’s capabilities and intentions. It is for this reason that salarian Special Task Group serves as the spearhead of the unified salarian armed forces. Their ability to gather, analyze and act upon intelligence anywhere in the galaxy allows the rest of the military to act on a moments notice to any threat. While the salarian military does organize their forces in administrative divisions recognizable by other forces, such as the Fleet (space forces) or Army (land forces) and possess a combine arms structure similar to the turian forces or human military, the level of integration of the salarian forces is second to none.  As an amphibian species, the salarians do not distinguish between operations on land or in the water. Thus they see operations in space or on the surface of planets as one fluid continuum that requires all forces to act as one. Every aspect of the operational art, regardless of theater, serves to fulfill clear strategic goals.

Another aspect emphasized by salarian doctrine is the deployment and use of cutting edge weapons systems that emphasize, fast, accurate, long range fire, the better to destroy their targets before they can retaliate. While salarian military industries develop a series of standardize equipment for the military, constant experimentation, updates, and modifications in the field guarantee that no two pieces of kit will be exactly the same. From ship engineers seeking to maximize the performance of their vessels to individual soldiers tinkering with their rifles, all units seek to the most from their weapons. Most  units end up juggling not one, but three types of kit, the experimental system undergoing field testing, the current piece of kit reaching the apex of modification and the last piece of kit suffering from obsolescence. While expensive, this process prevents soldiers from being stuck with outdated equipment and guarantees (at times a slim) superiority over their opposition.

The salarians recognize that their preemptive doctrine can not account for all contingencies, so they take it one step further by employing a proxy strategy. The salarian union often sends STG teams to provide support (arms, training, intelligence) to insurgency/opposition groups in the Terminus systems. Thus any potential enemy is too busy fighting military or political campaigns in their home turf to pose a real threat to salarian interest. When this fails, salarians either uplift pre-FTL species (the krogan) to do the heavy fighting, or form strong alliances with other races  that complement their capabilities (asari-biotics, turians-large military, humanity-buffer force). The salarians provide intelligence and advance technology in support of their proxies and or allies.

All these factors provide a potent deterrence to aggression. To potential enemies, the salarian military appears like a gun with a hair trigger, ready to go off at the slightest vibration.


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