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IMAs perform critical role in supporting mission at MacDill

by 1st Lt. Larry van der Oord
Chief of Internal Information

It's not uncommon to see some agencies around MacDill running on a 'skeleton crew' from time to time due to the wing's heavy deployment schedule. It's also not uncommon to see an individual mobilization augmentee stepping up to fill in for a deployed member without missing a beat.

IMAs are a relatively small group of reserve Airmen who backfill active duty positions when a unit is in need of additional support.

Currently, MacDill has about 470 IMAs working alongside the active duty population. The highest concentration of IMAs is located at U.S. Central Command, followed by U.S. Special Operations Command and the 6th Medical Group.

Senior Master Sgt. Patricia L. Moore, base individual mobilization augmentee administrator, said 470 is a rather large number of IMAs for a base, but MacDill has a need for them she added.

"In the Military Personnel Flight alone we were able to use 1,074 IMA man hours during 2004. They definitely play a significant role here," said Sergeant Moore.

Sergeant Moore noted that many reservists like the IMA program because of its flexibility. "IMAs are able to train with the active force, so they don't have to give up their weekends in the Reserves," she said.

Recently the Air Force has made efforts to further streamline the IMA program. Any office can request an IMA by completing the required steps.

"When requesting an IMA, an office must submit an ARPC Form 9 to justify the need for the position, and it must be validated and funded by the unit's major command," said Sergeant Moore.

Sergeant Moore also added that requests will be prioritized. The MAJCOM first looks to see if the IMA is going to be utilized for wartime augmentation.

Typically, IMAs serve in active-duty units about 24 days a year, but some of MacDill's IMAs have been serving much longer than that.

For all but a period of five months, Senior Master Sgt. Helen Zoller, 6th Services Squadron, Base Lodging training manager, has been on active duty status full time since Sept. 11, 2001.

Like many of the IMAs who are called up through the request process, Sergeant Zoller volunteered to serve on active duty, and she has been busy ever since.

"As training manager at lodging, I am responsible for making sure all desk clerks are trained to meet Air Force standards," said Sergeant Zoller. "I've been involved with all the large-group reservations from the past two Air Fests up through CORONA Top this year."

Like most IMAs, Sergeant Zoller has a civilian job when she's not working on active duty.

"I work in the Services Squadron in the financial management section in a NAF civilian position," she said.

Most IMAs are quick to agree that the program has many different benefits for its members.

"It is an excellent program for those who don't want to join the traditional reserve or guard unit because it gives you a lot of flexibility," said Sergeant Zoller.

Scheduled to come off active duty status Sept. 1, Sergeant Zoller had a very positive experience in her IMA position at Base Lodging.

"I wish it could continue on; the squadron has treated me very well and everybody I worked with treated like one of the family," she said. "It will be hard to say goodbye."

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