Trump won't stop saying 'my generals' -- and the military community isn't happy

  • President Donald Trump once again made a reference to "my generals" and "my military."
  • The phrasing has upset members of the military community in the past.
  • Some say it suggests a misguided sense of ownership over the armed forces.

President Donald Trump has made a habit of using a particular phrase that has angered members of the US military community.

The latest instance came on Wednesday, when the president was asked whether he authorized the mission that resulted in the deaths of four US military members in Niger earlier this month.

"My generals and my military, they have decision-making ability," Trump told reporters.

"As far as the incident that we're talking about, I've been seeing it just like you've been seeing it. I've been getting reports. They have to meet the enemy and they meet them tough," Trump said.

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President Trump with members of the military
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President Trump with members of the military
U.S. President Donald Trump is saluted by a military official as he departs from the capitol for the inaugural parade after his swearing in at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures to the crowd as he stands with U.S. Army personnel as he watches the Army vs Navy college football game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, December 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump awards the Medal of Honor to James McCloughan, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a lunch with members of the U.S. military during a visit at the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headquarters in Tampa, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump poses for a photo with Army Sgt First Class Alvaro Barrientos, his wife Tammy and First Lady Melania Trump (R) after awarding him a Purple Heart at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a lunch with members of the U.S. military during a visit at the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headquarters in Tampa, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: U.S. President Donald Trump salutes a U.S. Marine before boarding Marine One while departing from the White House, on March 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Louisville Kentucky to speak at a Make America Great Rally. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with military personnel as he arrives at Harrisburg international airport, before attending a rally marking his first 100 days in office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a lunch with members of the U.S. military during a visit at the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headquarters in Tampa, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks to U.S. military personnel at Naval Air Station Sigonella following the G7 Summit, in Sigonella, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to military personnel and families at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump greets members of the U.S. military as he prepares to board Air Force One, to survey hurricane damage, at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump returns a salute as he steps from Marine One to board Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S., on his way back to Washington August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump salutes as he arrives at Newark International airport in Newark, NJ U.S., to spend a weekend at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, New Jersey, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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What has set military members off is Trump's insistence on saying "my generals" and "my military," which some say suggests a misguided sense of ownership over the country's armed forces.

In the past, former military members have voiced their displeasure with Trump's phrasing. Former Army Officer Mark Hertling recently told Business Insider he found Trump's language "extremely offensive."

"The US military belongs to the nation, not the president. We're not his," Hertling said.

Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary and director of the CIA, has also objected to the president's choice of words.

"When it comes to the military, the military belongs to the country. Our defense system belongs to the country. And it's not the president's military, it's the military of the United States of America," Panetta said on MSNBC in April.

"He has responsibility obviously, as commander in chief, to be able to make decisions with regards to our military. But I think if you ask the men and women in uniform who they are responsible to, I think their answer would be, 'We're responsible to the United States of America.'"

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Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
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Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta waits for the start of the third and final debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta discusses his new book 'Worthy Fights' at George Washington University in Washington October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY MEDIA)
A display of the new memoir 'Worthy Fights' by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sits on a table outside the auditorium where he was discussing the book at George Washington University in Washington October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY MEDIA)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) greets Jordan's Ambassador to Belgium Montaser Oklah Al Zoubi before a NATO Defense Ministers meeting with non-NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contributing nations at NATO headquarters in Brussels February 22, 2013. Panetta is attending meetings and holding bilateral meetings with other NATO defense officials. REUTERS/Chip Somodevilla/Pool (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stand during a national anthem at an award ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) embraces outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) before the State of the Union address by U.S. President Barack Obama on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute to Panetta at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Washington February 8, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) poses for a photograph with Leon Panetta, the U.S. Secretary of State for Defence, before a meeting at 10 Downing Street, in central London January 18, 2013. REUTERS/John Stillwell/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS)
President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai (L) sits with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (R) for their meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) stands between current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) and Obama's nominee for that position, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (L), at the White House in Washington January 7, 2013. Obama announced the nominations of Hagel as his next defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the new CIA director. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L-R) stands with U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Air Force General Douglas Fraser and U.S. Marine General John F. Kelly during a change of command ceremony at United States Southern Command in Doral, Florida, November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Rhona Wise (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) greets Cambodian military officials after arriving for the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Retreat at Siem Reap Airport November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool (CAMBODIA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walk to a reception at the Indiana Teahouse at Cottesloe Beach, near Perth November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Rourke/Pool (AUSTRALIA - Tags: POLITICS)
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L-R) hold a news conference following meetings as part of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) at the State Reception Centre in Kings Park in Perth November 14, 2012. Clinton on Wednesday called the formation of a new opposition coalition in Syria an important step that would help Washington better target its help, but she stopped sort of offering full recognition or arms. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool (AUSTRALIA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
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Wednesday's comments are far from the first time Trump has referred to the US military in possessive terms. He did it just a week ago as he incorrectly asserted that former President Barack Obama didn't call the families of fallen soldiers:

"President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't, that's what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals," Trump said.

The president used the phrase again in June in a tweet announcing his decision to ban transgender members of the military, "after consultation with my generals and military experts."

In April, when a reporter asked Trump if he had personally authorized a bomb strike on an ISIS tunnel complex, the president responded, "Everybody knows exactly what happened. What I do is I authorize my military."

One of the first instances came on Inauguration Day in January — at a luncheon just hours after being inaugurated — when Trump recognized Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly.

“I see my generals, generals that are going to keep us so safe," Trump said to members of Congress and other dignitaries, before saying to Mattis, "These are central casting. If I'm doing a movie, I pick you General."

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SEE ALSO: Trump used the phrase 'my generals,' and the military community isn't happy

DON'T MISS: John McCain took an indirect shot at Trump for his famous deferment during the Vietnam War

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