WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — The former director of the National Security and Central Intelligence Agencies, Gen. Michael Hayden, says that President Barack Obama’s withdrawal plan in Afghanistan will lead to the same “dangerous” situation from the fall-out in Iraq.
“I think it’s fairly dangerous,” Hayden told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Going to zero [troops] in Iraq did not lead to a happy outcome. Now he’s committed to the same thing in Afghanistan.”
This comes after Obama’s Tuesday announcement that fewer than 10,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan for training and counter-terrorism operations by the end of this year. Obama said the U.S. will bring about 32,000 troops home this year, and by 2016, all troops will be pulled out of the country’s longest war.
“At the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 9,800 — 9,800 — U.S. service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners,” Obama said. “By the end of 2015, we will have reduced that presence by roughly half and will have consolidated our troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. One year later, by the end of 2016, our military will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul, with a security assistance component, just as we’ve done in Iraq.”
“[L]et me parse out what the president just said: ‘Before I leave office, I’m going to make Afghanistan look like Iraq,’” responded Hayden, who served as President George W. Bush’s NSA director.
Hayden said that 9,800 troops is “okay,” but added that it is “on the low end of the acceptable number from my point of view and the military’s point of view.” He also remarked that Obama’s timetable for Afghanistan is “not based upon conditions on the ground.”
“This is a timetable and it’s not based on conditions on the ground,” said Hayden. “We lose all leverage in negotiations with the new Afghan president.”
Hayden said that while Obama’s plan to pull back U.S. troops is agreeable, he believes that the U.S. needs to maintain a larger military presence in order to provide “confidence” to the Afghan government.
“I think it’s a burden the American military can stand,” he said.