I am skeptical myself.
Those are good points you bring up about cults, and mind control as well. Even though your questions are rhetorical, let me see if I can answer them.
For me a cult isn't so much what they teach from a doctrinal point of view. So it isn't a matter of not liking my loved ones religious choices. What makes a group a cult is how the behave. If a group has to use mind control to keep it's faithful, faithful, doesn't that imply that they might not really have the truth. When I say mind control, I am using it in very narrow terms. They modify your behaviour (which in turn modifies thought), they limit your information, they instill fear, and they will punish you if you leave. Those are clear aspects of mind control.
Now you did bring up a good example, the army. That is funny that you mention that, because I served as a Marine. The mind control/indoctrination methods that were used on me helped me to recognize the "feel" of indoctrination when I studied with the witnesses. It is absolutely true that the military uses mind control to make its members better soldiers, and more likely to survive combat. Here is the difference though. Although you are taught to follow orders in military matters, in all other aspects of life, the military prepares you to be mentally tough and to think for yourself. The military also has limited enlistment periods. The military has a chain of command, civilian oversite, and is subject to judicial review.
The witnesses want you to pretty much reject any knowledge that is not provided by the faithful and discreet slave. They discourage all free thought, and leave members very morally stunted. That is to say, members become very confused if they have to decide right or wrong in a matter not specified by the wt. They will not let you leave, if you do they will assume it is because of a character flaw in YOU, and they will make your exit as painful as possible. When the wt uses mind control it is not to empower the individual, it is to transfer control from the individual to the org. Furthermore, there is simply no check on the authority of the GB. They can pretty much do anything, and it is expected to be obeyed because they are God's organization.
Likening the military to the jw is simply not a valid comparison.
In all fairness, even though I do consider them to be a cult, I would consider them to be a very benign cult relative to many others out there.
As long as you don't need a blood transfusion!