Good points. You find yourself in such positions and at that point you are as you say judge and jury so hopefully wise. Funny thing is that in the military it's generally all about following orders. Thus the ones following the orders are sheep and yet if they are courageous in action you could say they are like lions.
Looking into such things instead of blindly following is indeed what we should do in order to learn more I agree. What is help? is a good question all of it's own.
It is generally NOT all about following orders. No more than anyone else in society has to follow orders. The nature of my "orders" in many cases are very, very broad such as "go forth and secure the area" and then I must do whatever I do within the context of the law to make things happen. It is not so much about micromanagement or mindless compliance. I have always tried to instill in my subordinates the ability to make decisions and choices within very broad guidance.
It really works much like successful businesses or companies. You empower your subordinates to make decisions and take action that they determine is correct. Of course you have constraints of laws, rules, treaties, money, diplomacy that must be understood.
Following orders...well certainly privates that have a few months in the military don't make many big decisions and do alot of following orders, but still make decisions that are appropriate for their pay grade.