One of the things I dislike about this episode is that Red Squad are supposed to be the finest cadets at the academy (presumably, the future command-track officers). And given the apparent prestige Starfleet has to the peoples of the Federation, as their foremost explorative/scientific/defensive institution, they're presumably supposed to be nothing less than some of the finest young people of their generation, however such things are measured. So why are they all such idiots? Why are the "elite" youth of the Federation - a society where simple merit is supposedly what earns you that "elite" status - so easily tempted by the sort of glory-hunger and hero worship we see here? Now, there's nothing wrong with the general idea of the episode - cadets thrust into a full-on war losing sight of their training and falling into the sort of behaviour we see here - but in practice it's as if Red Squad have less 'lost their way' and more 'never had the way to begin with'. The whole thing seems a little short-sighted to me, that it hasn't been considered how this reflects on Starfleet as a whole and so on the wider universe of the series and the franchse. That the Federation is implicitly presented as having such serious flaws seems a misstep - this isn't one of the deliberate moves to apply a more cynical eye to the UFP the way DS9's finer episodes often do, this seems like a mass character derailment for the sake of a story.