"I never was for a date certain," said Albright, who was appointed Secretary of State by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and now supports Barack Obama's Democratic presidential candidacy.
"In Bosnia, we gave a date certain, and then we couldn't get out, and that undercut our credibility," Albright, 71, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.
Her comment referred to the pullout of 20,000 U.S. peacekeeping troops from the war-torn Balkans during the Clinton administration.
The troops were sent to help enforce the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the 3 1/2-year war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, but stayed beyond a 1996 deadline Clinton initially set.
Obama has said that, if elected, he will start working toward ending the Iraq war on his first day in the White House.
He has also said "the removal of our troops will be responsible and phased."
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has made opposition to a timetable for withdrawal central to his candidacy.