Video: Retired 3-star General Mark Hertling Slams Donald Trump's 'Jackassery'

A war of words continues between President Donald Trump and former military top brass who are themselves no strangers to conflict.

In his latest broadside, Donald Trump derided retired Admiral William McRaven as a "Hillary Clinton fan" who should have been quicker to capture Osama bin Laden.

McRaven, a retired Navy SEAL, oversaw the 2011 operation that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But this did not impress Trump, who told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday: "It would have been nicer to get Osama bin Laden a lot sooner."

Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling pictured in December 2007 during a press conference about al-Qaeda at the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq. He has accused Donald Trump of 'jackassery' over the president's criticism of his ex-colleague William McRaven. Wathiq Khuzaie /Getty Images

Major General Mark Hertling, a retired three-star general who served with McRaven, defended his former colleague and told CNN that the president's comments were "disrespectful."

He said: "We can never become immune to this kind of narrative, to this kind of 'jackassery'.

"I don't need to defend Bill McCraven. He's a good friend of mine, he's a true patriot, a hero, we both have served during the same period of time and under multiple presidents from both parties.

"We serve in the military the Constitution of the United States. We don't serve an individual, that's what makes our military different from all the other militaries in the world. So this comment by the president was disrespectful, it was demoralizing, it was shallow, and it was unprofessional," he told CNN presenter Ana Cabrera on Sunday.

Hertling's comments were then backed in the same discussion by David Gergen, the former presidential adviser to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

"It shows a certain amount of ignorance over how hard it was to catch bin Laden," said Gergen, referring to Trump's comments. "That was a wonderful moment in American history."

"To go after the man who was right there central to that moment seems to me particularly unseemly, especially from a president who in France didn't go to that cemetery because he said the Secret Service wouldn't let him. Well, every other head of state went," he said, referring to Trump's no-show during a World War I armistice commemoration at a cemetery where thousands of Americans were buried.

In August, McRaven wrote in The Washington Post that Trump had "embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation."

McRaven said in a speech at the University of Texas that Trump's criticism of the media was the "the greatest threat to democracy" in his lifetime.

When asked if it was "out of line" for such a distinguished military man as McRaven to criticize the commander-in-chief, Hertling told CNN: "I agree with everything Bill McCraven said. I go back to the fact that the military pledges allegiance to the constitution of the United States.

"When the president call the press the 'fake news', when he disparages our allies, when he does things that counter our security, someone needs to speak up and Bill McCraven certainly has the platform to do that."

This story has been updated to include a further quote from Major General Mark Hertling.