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Slowing Growth in Missile Defense: The Pentagon is requesting $9.7 billion for ballistic missile defense in Fiscal 2013, nearly $700 million less than what Congress appropriated in Fiscal 2012, according to budget documents released Monday. "We will protect our investment in homeland missile defense and we will protect the European Phased Adaptive Approach," said Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale in explaining the BMD proposal during his budget rollout briefing on Monday. Among the highlights, the funding would support the continued maturation of EPAA, which protects NATO allies from Middle Eastern missile attack, beyond its first phase. Plus, the United States "will pursue phased adaptive approaches in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East by building on current efforts in those regions," states the Defense Department's budget overview document (caution, large-sized file). The funding request would also allow for continued development of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor, states the Missile Defense Agency's budget request summary. However, the Pentagon is cutting back on purchasing some TPY-2 radars, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense batteries, and SM-3 IB missiles in anticipation that "we will slow the growth in missile defenses in those areas," said Hale. (Hale-Spencer transcript)