As we wind down 2012, The Takeaway will be airing a series of conversations with some of the people, and on the issues, that took center stage this year. For NATO, 2012 has been a key year in Afghanistan, as troops there prepare to hand over power to Afghan security forces next year.
"In 2013, we reached an important milestone," says NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "By mid-2013, I would expect to have handed over lead responsibility to the Afghan security forces all over Afghanistan. We will stay with our combat mission until the end of 2014."
Meanwhile, NATO is carefully watching as events unfold in Syria, but currently has no intention to intervene militarily in that country. According to Rasmussen, his organization is prepared to assist and defend Turkey should the fighting spill over that border and threaten Turkish citizens.
As far as the challenges that lie ahead, Rasmussen says he recognizes that countries in the alliance are economically strapped, a condition that could impact their defense budgets. "We have to make sure that despite economic austerity, we will be able to acquire the necessary military capabilities in the future," he said. "That will be one our challenges in 2013."