- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Four-star general and former CIA director Michael Hayden says it is a mistake to set strict deadlines for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

President Obama said Tuesday that he wants to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the conclusion of formal combat operations at the end of this year, and said all American forces will leave the country by the end of 2016.

Proclaiming “a new chapter in American foreign policy,” Mr. Obama said U.S. forces will no longer patrol Afghan villages and mountain ranges.

But General Hayden said a strict point of withdrawal could lead to disarray in the region.

“I think it’s very dangerous,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

He cited the situation in Iraq where, with American troops gone, various local factions begin to suspect the worst about their rivals without the “dampening effect” of the U.S. presence.

The general used the situation in Syria to buttress his point. Had the United States kept a brigade in Iraq, he said, it may have disrupted the supply line of weapons from Tehran to Damascus.