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Spotlight: USAF Reserve associate unit integrated with Combined Space Operations Center

A man and a woman speaking while sitting at a table with papers in front of them.

Master Sgt. Angeline Santos, left, the 9th Combat Operations Squadron Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance division acting superintendent, speaks with Lt. Col. John Spargur, the 9th COS director of operations, at the Combined Force Space Component Command headquarters building on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, June 11, 2021. The 9th COS is the Reserve Associate unit to Space Delta 5, which augments intelligence, planning and operations at the Combined Space Operations Center. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Even though many may not know it, military coalition forces and civilians alike across the world rely on the U.S. Air Force Reservists who work alongside Space Force Guardians at the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

The 9th Combat Operations Squadron is the only Reserve Associate unit that integrates with Space Delta 5 and conducts day-to-day and contingency operations. The 120, Reserve Citizen Airmen, 25 of which work full time, augment all aspects of intelligence, planning, operations and training. As a Reserve unit, the 9th COS is structured to provide surge capability when needed.

“It only takes about 10 percent of the resources to keep our full-time people sharp,” said Lt Col. Gregory Dierenfield, the 9th COS advanced training coordinator. “Normally, we will have about 10 people on hand at any given time conducting daily operations. The additional surge capability we provide is 10 times that manpower.”

U.S. Space Command augments the U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 5 with joint personnel, along with exchange officers from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.  Together, they man the CSpOC, which is a central hub for planning, executing and assessing space operations that support USSPACECOM and the Combined Force Space Component Command, ensuring operational command and control of space forces to support combatant commanders and allies.  The military mission sets falling under the CSpOC include satellite launches and operations, missile warning, ground-based radar and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It also supports NASA and civilian enterprises like SpaceX and other commercial entities that rely on satellites to conduct business.

“We have a talented and experienced team of space professionals,” said Col. Morgenstarr Brienza, the 9th COS commander. “They have built a strong relationship with our total force partners by proving themselves to be credible experts whether during training or strategic planning.”

Generally, reservists spend longer at units than their active duty counterparts, which makes them excellent resources when it comes to continuity and training. 

“Training both active duty and reservists is a big piece of what we do because we’ve been doing it so long,” said Dierenfield, who has been with the unit for nearly a decade.

The mission set at CSpOC is known as command and control and it requires constant evolution in training and evaluation techniques for who Dierenfield refers to as “space users,” which range from allied special forces teams to families using GPS to take a road trip.

“We’re very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of people in the 9th COS that help us ensure the dependable delivery of space capabilities to combatant commanders, the joint force and partner nations, every single day of the year,” said Col. Monique DeLauter, the CSpOC and Space Delta 5 commander. “The CSpOC really embodies what all strong operations centers should have—a diverse group of joint, total force, international military, and civil and commercial partners working towards a common mission.”

The squadron is a geographically separated unit falling under the only 310th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, which is the only Air Force Reserve wing with a space mission.