KABUL, Afghanistan — A planned drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan threatens to set back progress in the 15-year war and could allow militants to establish a greater foothold there, a group of 13 retired U.S. generals and senior diplomats have warned President Barack Obama.

In an open letter published Friday in The National Interest, the former heads of U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan urged the president to maintain current U.S. troop levels in that country through the end of his term.

“It would likely have helpful effects on refugee flows, the confidence of the Taliban, the morale of the Afghan military and Afghan people, the state of the Afghan economy and perhaps even the strategic assessments of some in Pakistan,” they wrote.

The letter was signed by David Petraeus, a former U.S. Army general and CIA director who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; Zalmay Khalilzad and Ryan Crocker, former ambassadors to Afghanistan; and 10 other generals and diplomats.

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