Air Force Reserve IMA Annual Requirements Explained

Hope someone finds this useful – I had to look around all over the place for this information because the Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) program is kind of the stepchild of the Reserves.  I could find a lot of info for Guardsmen and Trad Reservists, but not so much for IMAs.

You have two very soft, very flexible requirements to be in your IMA position:

1.  A requirement to do a number of duty hours for your position every Fiscal Year.  As IMAs we have an Inactive Duty Training (IDT) period and Annual Tour (AT) requirement for our IMA position (example: I need 48 IDTs and 14 AT as stated in my billet/position description, and I gotta meet this every fiscal year or things happen, see below). 

2.  A requirement to do a certain number of hours to get a ‘good year’ towards retirement every R/R year.  Let’s say you separated from Active Duty on 27 May 2014 and immediately joined the Reserves on 28 May 2014.  So, you have to get 50 points from 28 May 2014 – 27 May 2015, which is pretty damn easy.  You automatically get 15 points for having a heartbeat, so you really only need to get 35 points (either AT, IDT, or whatever) to have enough for a ‘good year’ towards retirement.  Remember that each 4-hour IDT period counts as 1 point, and each day of AT counts as 1 point. 

So what happens if you don’t get enough duty hours per Fiscal Year for your billet?  

They can hit you with reassignment or at worst, discharge.  Up to the Commander to decide.  You can write a waiver for your AT (signed by your Commander) and be good to go, too.  

What happens if you don’t get enough points in your R/R year?  

Well, you want a minimum of 20 ‘good years’ and you can stop working after that.  Any pts you got during the R/R year will still go towards your final retirement pay calculation though so it’s not that big a deal if you’re thinking long term.  And in the short term, you still get paid very, very well for your time.

I also heard that you don’t have to use IDT at the unit you’re assigned to, just your AT days…you’ll have to ask someone smarter than me about this, though.

Do weekends count?

Yes, for your AT – most people do something like Monday (week 1) through Friday (week 2), which ends up being 12 days including the Sat/Sun in between.  Think of it like being Active Duty again, you’re kind of on a pass every weekend.  You can do weekend IDTs if your office is okay with it and you put in the hours, but my office is a Mon-Fri kind of gig so weekends weren’t a great use of our time.

Can you work from home?

You can definitely work from home if you have prior written approval from your unit.  There’s a form in AFI 36-2254 (reserve personnel telecommuting guidelines) that you need to fill out, and it should be one of your in-processing requirements.  It’s better for both you and the unit for you to knock out all your CBT/online training requirements from the comfort of your home. 

What is an IMA Reservist?

  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.