Eddie, in the military, there is no such thing as a request.
That's kinda my point, wing. Orders are orders, and officers obey the chain of command as a matter of course. Of the very few circumstances in which an officer may receive a "request" from his or her superiors, those are NEVER confused with orders.
Orders may be phrased as requests, but only in the sense of "Flight is requesting another update on V103's engine trouble" which is just another way of saying "call the boss again."
Picard's choice of words is relevant here: he agrees
to that request, and he tells Kolrami the same thing in the conference. Starfleet, therefore, gave him a choice. This isn't something you see a lot (hardly ever) in military organizations, but it's something you see a whole hell of a lot in police departments, private security companies and paramilitary organizations. Although, in fairness, in the military it most often occurs when a particular unit (say, a Coast Guard vessel) is being asked by a civilian organization (say, Chicago Tallships) to participate in some kind of public relations stunt. In Picard's case, it's significant that Kolrami is not actually a Starfleet officer and doesn't appear to be a ranking official in the Federation government either.
You would know this if you'd served
Which I did, which to a small extent is part of the reason I find the concept of Starfleet as a military
organization kind of laughable. They remind me of a bunch of cub scouts imitating a submarine movie: no readbacks, little discipline, not much decorum. You can tell what they're TRYING to be, but they're clearly not.
That, however, is not something I can't defend intellectually because it's a perception issue and COULD be unique to my own experiences: excepting a handful of TOS episodes, the only thing Starfleet seems to have in common with any branch of the U.S. military is that they carry weapons. And that's about it.
Having guns does not a military make.
anyone who's served would also have scorn for the "non-military" starfleet idea.
Why? Is the Army Astronaut program really that popular with the kids?