I had an interesting conversation about this topic just the other day. The person expressed the view that; "If it's altering someones actions to prepare them for doing perceived good things, then it is referred to as training. If the goal is to alter someones actions to prepare them to do perceived bad things, then it is brainwashing."
The idea of altering the way people think therefore is accepted, it is just what it is used for. The second point is, by whose perception is it good or bad? Now we get to a common phrase: " If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you?" This was usually a rhetorical question from a parent referring to your actions and your response of, "well he told me to do it."
Using this simple example, I can relate what it is like being in a profession such as the military. In response to the statement above, the soldier would not only say yes but usually, yes sir. Weird ah? Why would a perfectly normal human, (for all intentions military), jump off a bridge because he was told to and not give it a second thought. That is what they are trained / brainwashed to do. You don't ask why. You don't look for other options that may be safer. No, you just jump because you are trained / brainwashed into blindly following orders. When given an order, the person giving it is totally responsible for that order. The orders given to this person, is now responsible for the person below them in rank to follow that order and the ones below that person as well.
This is how the system works. Depending on what rank you are, is the amount of thinking and planning you can do. So, if your at the top (General), you do all the thinking and from there the system runs. If everyone follows orders as given, then the system works perfectly. If orders are not followed, then there is a total breakdown in cohesion. The entity is no longer working as one unit.
A simple example, your body. Your mind (General), tells your arm to move, it moves. If your arm starts moving all on it's own then....... you get the picture. Milgram did an experiment on why some normal people would do things they normally would not, just because someone told them to. Unbelievable? Look it up on Wikipedia and watch the experiment. More about this later.