9th Combat Operations Squadron

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9th Combat Operations Squadron
Former 9th Space Operations Squadron emblem
Active 1943 – 1945, 1946 – 1947, 1953 – 1971, 1999 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part of 310th Space Wing
Garrison/HQ Vandenberg AFB, California
Nickname(s) Blackhawks
Motto(s) SEMPER SUMMATUM — Always the Highest

The United States Air Force's 9th Combat Operations Squadron (9 COS), previously known as the 9th Space Operations Squadron (9 SOPS), is a Air Force Reserve Command space operations unit located at Vandenberg AFB, California. 9 COS augments the 614th Air and Space Operations Center in operating the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, performing combat operations, plans, strategy and intelligence assessments that enable the Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC-SPACE) to command and control space forces by providing worldwide space effects and theater support to combatant commanders.


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


The lineage of the 9th Combat Operations Squadron 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.

761st Bombardment Squadron[edit]

The unit was first activated as the 761st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) in 1 July 1943;[2] and assigned to II Bomber Command for training with B-24 Liberators. They primarily trained in Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico and then moved to Kearns Army Air Base, Utah.

While at Kearns, the unit received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in August 1943. However, their deployment location in Spinazzola, Italy was not constructed, so the unit spent a short time (Oct 1943-Jan 1944) at Chatham Army Air Field, Georgia flying coastal patrol missions over the southeastern United States.

The 761 BS at last deployed to Spinazzola Airfield in January 1944 and was assigned to the 55th Bombardment Wing under the 15th Air Force. Its mission was to conduct long-range strategic bombing sorties 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 World War II 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 Waller Field, Trinidad and subsequently Natal Air Base (Parnamirim Airport), Brazil. The 761 BS moved people from Dakar in French West Africa to Brazil (via the South Atlantic Transport Route) with a final destination of Morrison Field, Florida via Trinidad.

On 26 September 1945, "Green Project" ended and the 761 BS was inactivated.

9th Reconnaissance Squadron[edit]

On 29 April 1946, the 761 BS was re-designated as the 9 Reconnaissance Squadron and assigned to the 314th Composite Wing, 20th Air Force, Far East Air Force, and was assigned to Johnson Air Base and then Yokota Air Base, Japan.[2] 9 RS Airmen flew the P-39, as well as the F-7, F-9, and F-13 (B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress, and B-29 Superfortress bombers retrofitted to perform photo reconnaissance) performing mapping missions over occupied Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Indochina, and other areas under Far East Air Forces' control after World War II. The squadron also flew classified missions over the Soviet Far East. (Note: during this time period, the 'F' designation stood for 'foto-recon', as opposed to 'fighter'.)

The squadron was inactivated in October 1947 and its personnel, equipment and mission were transferred to the 31st Reconnaissance Squadron.[2][3]

9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron[edit]

The squadron was reactivated on 11 November 1953 by Tactical Air Command (TAC) as the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Electronics and Weather) at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. It was initially equipped with Douglas RB-26 Invader light bombers equipped for night reconnaissance missions.

Emblem of the 9th TRS[2][note 1]

In January 1956, the squadron was the first in the Air Force to receive jet powered Douglas RB-66B Destroyers, which added weather sampling capability.[4] The unit later flew other upgraded models of the plane (RB-66C and WB-66D).[5]

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.

On 31 Aug 1971, 9 TRS inactivated due to budget restrictions. The aircraft and crew were divided between units in Southeast Asia supporting the Vietnam War.

9th Space Operations Squadron[edit]

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 (614 SOF).

On 1 October 1999, the 9th Space Operations Squadron (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 614 SOPS and 614 SIS missions. During this time, 9 SOPS began to more fully augment all divisions within 614 SOPS. 1 SOPS and 614 SOPS 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.

9th Combat Operations Squadron[edit]

On 3 June 2017, the 9th Space Operations Squadron was officially re-designated in a formal ceremony as the 9th Combat Operations Squadron (9 COS). This re-designation was done to follow the name standard of other reserve units associated with Air Operations Centers throughout the Air Force.

Today, 9 COS 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 COS 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.[6]


  • 761st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) constituted, 19 May 1943
Activated, 1 Jul 1943
  • Re-designated 761st Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, 29 Sep 1944
Inactivated, 26 Sep 1945
  • Re-designated 9th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Photographic, 29 Apr 1946
Activated, 20 Jun 1946
Inactivated, 20 Oct 1947
  • Re-designated 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Electronics and Weather, 21 Jul 1953
Activated, 11 Nov 1953[7]
  • Re-designated 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Photo-Jet, 15 May 1965
  • Re-designated 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 Oct 1966
Inactivated, 31 Aug 1971
  • Re-designated 9th Space Operations Squadron, 5 Feb 1999
Activated in the Reserve, 1 Oct 1999
  • Re-designated 9th Combat Operations Squadron, 3 Jun 2017


Systems Operated[edit]


Explanatory Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The 31st Reconnaissance Squadron continued to use this emblem after it replaced the 9th at Yokota Air Base, rather than its own emblem, but it was not approved. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 152-153.


  1. ^ FAS.org: "Reserve activates two new space units"
  2. ^ a b c d Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 741-742
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 152-153
  4. ^ Knaack, p. 419
  5. ^ Knaack, p. 442, 452
  6. ^ Details in this section were provided in private correspondence by the unit history record and published in an internal document for the re-designation ceremony in June 2017.
  7. ^ a b Lineage, including assignments, stations, and aircraft through 1963 in Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 741-742
  8. ^ World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.