9th Space Operations Squadron

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9th Space Operations Squadron
9SOPS2013.png
9th Space Operations Squadron emblem
Active 1999-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part of 310th Space Wing
Garrison/HQ Vandenberg AFB, California
Motto SEMPER SUMMATUM — Always the Highest

The United States Air Force's 9th Space Operations Squadron (9 SOPS) is a space operations unit located at Vandenberg AFB, California. 9 SOPS operates the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, performing combat operations, plans, strategy and intelligence assessments enabling the commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC-SPACE) to command and control space forces by providing worldwide space effects to combatant commanders.

Mission[edit]

9th SOPS is an associate unit to the 614th Air and Space Operations Center, and augment the active duty in day-to-day operations of the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC. The JSpOC is a 24-hour operation center designed to provide commanders with coordinating, planning, and conducting space operations.[1]

History[edit]

The lineage of the 9thSpace Operations Squadron (9 SOPS) traces itself from a proud and storied history spanning three distinct mission areas including heavy bombing during World War II (WWII), air reconnaissance during the Cold War, as well as, most recently, space command and control.

The 761 BS Heavy was activated on 1 July 1943.  The 761 BS started as a B-24 Liberator unit originally stationed at Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico and then moved to Kearns, Utah.  While at Kearns, the 761 BS received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO).  The unit spent a short time at Chatham Army Air Field, Georgia flying coastal patrol missions over the Southeastern United States while airfield facilities at Spinazzola, Italy where being constructed.  The 761 BS deployed to Spinazzola in January,1944 and was assigned to the 55th Bombardment Wing under 15th Air Force with the mission of long-range strategic bombing missions targeting enemy military and industrial transportation targets including railroad marshaling yards, oil refineries, airdrome installations, heavy industry and other strategic objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.  The 761 BS flew its last WWII combat mission on 25 April 1945.  After Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, the mission changed to moving people under the “Green Project”.  The aircraft bomb bays were sealed, the armament was removed, and the unit was reassigned to Air Transport Command.  The unit relocated to Trinidad and subsequently Brazil.  The 761 BS moved people from West Africa to Brazil with a final destination of Florida.  In September, 1945, “Green Project” ended and the 761 BS was inactivated.

On 29 April 1946, the 761 BS was re-designated as the 9 RS and assigned to the 341st Composite Wing (341 CW), 20th Air Force (20 AF), Far East Air Force.  In 1946, the 341 CW moved the 9 RS moved to Johnson (later Yokota) Air Base, Japan.  9 RS Airmen flew the P-39, as well as theF-7, F-9, and F-13 (B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress, and B-29 Superfortress bombers retrofitted to perform photo reconnaissance,respectively) performing mapping missions over occupied Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia as well as classified missions over the Soviet Far East.  During this time period, the ‘F’ designation stood for ‘foto-recon,’ as opposed to ‘fighter.’  The 9 RS inactivated in October 1947.

The 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (9 TRS) was activated on 11 November 1953 at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.  The unit flew the RB-26 Invader and RB-66 Destroyer. The RB-26 was a light bomber and nighttime recon aircraft and the RB-66 added a weather sampling capability.  In 1962, 9 TRS had a Navy squadron commander, Commander Chester E. Kingsbury, and flew classified film missions supporting the Cuban Missile Crisis starting in October 1962.  Between 1963 and 1966, 9 TRS routinely deployed to Southeast Asia and served as an Air Force training squadron for the upgraded B-66 Destroyer.  In 1971, 9 TRS inactivated due to budget restrictions. The aircraft and crew were divided between units in Southeast Asia supporting the Vietnam War.

Since the early 1990s, the space command and control mission evolved and changed faster than anyone could have imagined.  In 1994, 14th Air Force (14 AF) was activated at Vandenberg Air Force Base and became responsible for space operations.  Between 1994 and 1998, United States Air Force Reservists supported HQ 14 AF on various man-day tours, primarily as individual mobilization augmentees (IMA).  In 1999, Captain Pat Assayag led a team to 14 AF to discuss the possibility of activating a Reserve squadron to support the 614th Space Operations Flight (614SOF).   On 1 October 1999, 9 SOPS was activated as a Reserve Space Operations Squadron with 37 billets and the responsibility of supporting the newly re-designated 614th Space Operations Squadron(614 SOPS) to build the weekly Space Tasking Order.  Many Reservists supporting HQ 14 AF were then reassigned to 9 SOPS.  At the unit activation ceremony, Major General Robert Hinson, commander of 14 AF, stated “our ability to maintain our nation's superiority in space is dependent upon the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve as critical contributors to part of a cohesive Total Force."

In 2002, the space mission transferred from United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) to United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), as USSPACECOM inactivated.  Then in 2003, the USSTRATCOM Joint Force Component Command (JFCC) construct was developed, and the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) was activated under JFCC Space and Global Strike (SGS), which was soon re-designated JFCC SPACE. 

In 2005, as the Fiscal Year 2008 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) was drafted, HQ AFSPC increased manpower from 37 to 126 billets, ensuring additional support to the 614 SOPS and the new 614 Space Intelligence Squadron (614 SIS).  Also that year, the 1st Space Control Squadron(1 SCS) moved to Vandenberg AFB to become part of 614 SOPS.

In 2006, the JSpOC mission evolved and the unit grew, 9 SOPS continued to align closely with 614SOPS and 614 SIS missions.  During this time, 9 SOPS began to more fully augment all divisions within 614 SOPS. 1 SOPS and 614SOPS combined to form the 614th Air and Space Operations Center (614 AOC) in 2007.

In 2010, the command structure of 9 SOPS was adjusted to bring it more in line with the host 614 AOC's O-6 led command and division chief structure.

Today, 9 SOPS is a growing unit of over 100 Space, Intelligence and Communications professionals, expanding the vital role of support of the 614 AOC and JSpOC.  Throughout many changes in personnel and mission, 9 SOPS has been and continues to be a strong backbone to the Space Command and Control as well as Space Situational Awareness missions at Vandenberg AFB.

Previous designations[2][edit]

  • 9th Space Operations Squadron (1999–Present)

Bases stationed[edit]

Systems Operated[3][edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FAS.org: "Reserve activates two new space units"
  2. ^ Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
  3. ^ World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3