F-15’s $4 billion EWS upgrades. Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “When it comes to U.S. fighter jets, the new, multi-variant, stealthy F-35 grabs most of the headlines nowadays as it nears the end of a long development phase and begins to enter operational service. But older fighters are far from being sidelined, as a recently awarded Air Force contract shows. Boeing announced Oct. 1 that it has received a $4 billion contract to upgrade the Air Force’s F-15 fleet with the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) . . . .”

Cleared-people plummet. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “The number of security-cleared personnel continues to drop, according to recently released Department of Defense figures. The number of individuals with Department of Defense security clearances dropped by 100,000 in the first half of FY 2015 . . . . The reduction in the size of the cleared workforce has serious implications for defense industry recruiters, who already struggle to fill slots and submit new clearance requests in the wake of serious processing delays caused by the cybersecurity breach at the Office of Personnel Management.”


ISIS taking Aleppo. AP’s Zeina Karam reports, “Islamic State militants seized several villages from rival insurgents north of Aleppo city Friday, in a surprise attack that came despite intensive Russian airstrikes that Moscow insists are targeting the extremist group . . . . The new developments come amid a wave of Russian airstrikes that have targeted insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar Assad, and a ground offensive by the Syrian army in the country’s central region.”

Killed in Syria: Revolutionary Guard commander. Voice of America reports, “A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has been killed in Syria, Tehran said Friday, and French warplanes carried out fresh airstrikes in the country, as the conflict continued to take on a complex international component. General Hossein Hamedani was killed by Islamic State fighters earlier this week while advising Syrian troops in the northern region of Aleppo . . . .”

Countering ISIS. Christian Science Monitor’s Anna Mulrine reports, “Al Qaeda in Iraq failed because of its ‘brutality, zealotry, and arrogant belief that it was a state,’ said critics – both jihadi and non-jihadi – according to Will McCants, director of the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution in Washington. So what did the Islamic State do? It doubled down.”

CIA’s de Sousa detained. The Wall Street Journal’s Patricia Kowsmann and Manuela Mesco report, “Portuguese authorities detained a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative on a warrant stemming from her 2009 conviction in Italy in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric there . . . Ms. de Sousa is one of 26 Americans, mostly CIA agents, convicted in absentia in 2009 of taking part in the 2003 kidnapping Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr on a street in Milan. The CIA and Italian police considered the cleric to be a recruiter for al Qaeda.”

Tunisia wins Peace Prize. New York Times’ Sewell Chan reports, “The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday ‘for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.’ The prize was awarded nearly five years since a desperate Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire, touching off a political earthquake that continues to reverberate throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”


GSA’s new Professional Services Schedule. Federal Times´ Aaron Boyd reports, “The General Services Administration created a new schedule for professional services — the Professional Services Schedule — consolidating the agency’s offerings into a single contract vehicle. The new schedule — the culmination of a year’s work — launched Oct. 1 and is now open for agency use. The schedule includes contracts for advertising and marketing, business consulting, environmental solutions, financial and business solutions, language services, logistics and professional engineering. Those subcategories still exist for ease of use, however the vendor offers are now consolidated under a single contract for every company.”

Quick fix: unanticipated improvised threats. Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “U.S. military researchers are reaching out to industry to find new ways of responding to surprise enemy battlefield capabilities as improvised threats as quickly as quickly as possible. Officials of the Army Contracting Command in Natick, Mass., issued a sources-sought notice this week (W911QY-16-R-ITIR) to develop a quick-reaction capability to respond to unanticipated improvised threats from terrorists or other adversaries.”


Corporate encryption survives. Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima and Andrea Peterson reports, “After months of deliberation, the Obama administration has made a long-awaited decision on the thorny issue of how to deal with encrypted communications: It will not — for now — call for legislation requiring companies to decode messages for law enforcement. Rather, the administration will continue trying to persuade companies that have moved to encrypt their customers’ data to create a way for the government to still peer into people’s data when needed for criminal or terrorism investigations.”

CIA’s Directorate for Digital Innovation. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, “It’s the first directorate the agency has added since 1963 and the biggest change to America’s key spy service since before the moon landing. The new office will look beyond the spycraft of today to the very big question of how to turn the vast amounts of data that the agency collects into useful insight for analysts, agents, the agency, and the nation. The goal is to turn chatter and daily digital exhaust into a window into the future.”

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.