Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta briefs reporters Wednesday aboard a plane en route to a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels. He called 2013 a critical year for the decade-old U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta briefs reporters Wednesday aboard a plane en route to a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels. He called 2013 a critical year for the decade-old U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)