Red Squad sounds like it was personally put together by that one admiral back when to do his dirty business, so they are probably the ambitious, less scrupulous types that are also pretty darn good at what they do, as long as it isn't something huge...like fighting a new enemy battleship in a crippled little ship behind enemy lines.
Indeed. Just because Red Squad are told they are the elite of the elite doesn't mean that was the real reason they were chosen to be in Red Squad. Considering they were previously used as pawns in an attempted coup, it seems likely that the admirals in charge of the group were selecting cadets that they knew would blindly follow orders.
That certainly makes sense (perfect sense, actually), but I don't remember anything in The Valiant
that particularly suggested to me that this was being considered (although I admit it's been a while since I've watched the episode). Usually I'd applaud the show for being subtle and allowing us to pick up any such implied subtexts, especially those rooted in the show's prior continuity, but given how unsubtle the episode is I find it hard to accept that there was that much thought put into it. I assumed, then, that the episode was working from the assumption that Red Squad were indeed the best. Maybe I'm underestimating the episode, but I sort of took it at face value because that's what it seemed to want me to do.
Nog getting swept up in the hero-worship and general glory-seeking made sense to me, and the reasoning given on Memory Alpha works for me too; I just feel that the episode doesn't really justify why a crew of elite Starfleet cadets are shown to be slipping into such dangerous thinking - it just makes me uncomfortable for what it seems to imply about the Federation and I'm not sure I get the sense any of that is being considered here.