(CNSNews.com) - President Obama's plan to bring all but a few U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 is "fairly dangerous," said retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, who served under President George W. Bush in various capacities.
"[L]et me parse out what the president just said: 'Before I leave office, I'm going to make Afghanistan look like Iraq.' You know, going to zero (troops) in Iraq did not lead to a happy outcome. And now he's committed to doing the same thing in Afghanistan. I think it's fairly dangerous," Hayden told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
President Obama on Tuesday announced that when the combat mission concludes at the end of this year, fewer than 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and support counter-terrorism operations.
"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."
The president also made it clear that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 only if the new Afghan president signs a security agreement giving the Americans the authority they need to fulfill their mission.
Hayden said 9,800 troops is "okay," but "probably on the low end of the acceptable number from my point of view and the military's point of view." However, Hayden objected to Obama releasing a timetable that "is not based upon conditions on the ground."
Hayden said that leaving 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq would have made a big difference in dampening sectarian fighting there; and in curbing Syria's civil war.
In his remarks on Tuesday, President Obama said the U.S. remains committed to a sovereign, secure, stable and unified Afghanistan.
"We have to recognize Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America's responsibility to make it one. The future of Afghanistan must be decided by Afghans. But what the United States can do, what we will do, is secure our interests and help give the Afghans a chance, an opportunity, to seek a long-overdue and hard-earned peace."