What is an IMA? If you ask a University of Washington grad, they’ll tell you it’s the Intra Mural Activities building, aka the gym. Ask a military person, and 99% of them will each give you a different answer. Honestly, if you asked me in 2013 I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it meant, either. But to a very small fraction of the force, it’s a special type of reservist: the Individual Mobilization Augmentee.
Normal or ‘traditional’ reservists are the most common kind of reservist. They have ‘drill weekends’ one weekend of every month, and in addition they have to serve for two weeks every year. Their work is focused on training and staying ready to fly/fight in case they’re ever needed to deploy.
IMA Reservists are different. These folks are there to replace or supplement active duty (full time) personnel. They don’t have regular drill weekends, but they do have a minimum number of hours each year that they need to spend. They do have the same two-week requirement as the traditional reservists. Instead of drilling (training) with other reservists, they train on their own and when they go to work, they are expected to work like an active duty (full time) member of the unit. So if you’re an Acquistions/Developmental Engineer, you’ll go in and help out with Source Selection, do a Tech Eval, do a Request for Proposal, etc.
So why have IMA Reservists?
Most Acquisitions/Developmental Engineering reserve positions are IMAs because that’s where they have the most impact to the total force. They don’t need to drill (train) in their job function because they already maintain basic proficiency through civilian jobs. They are ready to contribute to an acquisition/development program at any time, and also provide the benefit of a different point of view. They also have civilian skills and experience that are sorely lacking among military officers, like IT/tech skills. For example, we had one IMA reservist that had an extensive knowledge of databases and SQL, so she developed and maintained a personnel database for our unit.
The downside to being an IMA Reservist? You are alone. I’m writing this as an Acquisitions/Developmental Engineer, former active duty and former IMA Reservist. I couldn’t find any information on this (except for another IMA reservist’s blog post) when I did my initial research. The expectation is that you will have to be proactive and show initiative to find, apply for, join, and succeed in these jobs.
Are you in Acquisitions/Developmental Engineering and looking to join the reserves? Hit me up anytime and we can chat.