I know this is sort of a strange question, but I'm legitimately unsure. You'd imagine military men and women would have pretty minimal tolerance for nonsense, as well as emotion-first communication or random opinion spouting. Getting only the facts before all the opinions and guessing might even be codified in military procedure, if not solely their etiquette. That's how I was imagining it, at least, until I heard noted former Navy Seal Jocko Willink mention he doesn't think it was good to have politicians say Iraq was a quagmire, or that we shouldn't have been there. I definitely understand why you'd want, in an abstract sense, congresspeople to believe in your competence (that being said, I don't give much weight to their judgments), but the concerns of the Iraq War were mostly about the job performance of senior White House officials, notably the President, who committed to a conflict with unreasonable goals. I also understand him being concerned that if we weren't committed to the mission we'd pay the terrible cost of war and not get the benefit of truly liberating oppressed people.

But, fundamentally, weren't those people right about Iraq? Don't get me wrong, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, the insurgents were bad, disgusting people. And the military got lot of good work done, but when a mission continues 40x longer than it took to have the first Mission Accomplished celebration, yeah, I think "quagmire" is accurate. The cost of their (still limited) freedom was a never-ending US presence. We couldn't, ever, leave. We shouldn't all be infinitely committed to a mission like that. No humanitarian effort is literally worth a quazi-infinite commitment.

It takes insane bravery to contradict someone trying to take you away from danger. But it's not clear to me that the appearance of solidarity was being subordinated to the need for clear-eyed understanding of the conflict. And yet, that's precisely what you need, if you want to effectively lead the military. If things are going well, you don't need humility, or any virtues, really. But when things go badly, the virtues your job requires are tested. And one of those virtues, it stands to reason, is to have enough humility to notice things are going poorly, and admit it, so you can try something else.

I care deeply about having a top-flight military, and don't think they're given the tools they need to thrive these days. But systems in equilibrium tend to have many simultaneous problems. If well-meaning people fix all the problems they can, the only problems left are ones that cannot be fixed in the current nested Nash equilibrium of the command structure. So we have well-executed operations, helping real people, stopping real monsters, at diminishing human cost... and it can still be a bad idea. Surrender isn't an option for servicemen and women, so of course their knowledge of surrender isn't wisdom forged in the fires of combat. And there are some problems that can't be solved by tweaking your approach. At the very least, we should be open to people discussing when it's wise to surrender – not just saying "it's bad" to say a conflict isn't working.