IMAs hone readiness skills

Staff Sgt. Wendi Zook, an individual mobilization augmentee with the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, uses a post for stability during firing range practice April 28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Staff Sgt. Wendi Zook, an individual mobilization augmentee with the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, uses a post for stability during firing range practice April 28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Smith, an individual mobilization augmentee in the ready reserves and the IMA security force manager at the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, gets time in at the firing range April 28. He and five other IMAs updated their combat skills by going through the 82nd SFS combat skills training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Smith, an individual mobilization augmentee in the ready reserves and the IMA security force manager at the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, gets time in at the firing range April 28. He and five other IMAs updated their combat skills by going through the 82nd SFS combat skills training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Members of Team Sheppard deploy on a regular basis to forward locations across the globe, leaving squadrons short on manning and lacking options. That's where the individual mobilization augmentees step in to lend a hand. 

IMA's are a reserve component, with a singularly unique mission. 

"IMA's are a form of reserve that fills the spots when active duty members deploy," said Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Smith, an IMA security force manager with the 82nd Security Forces Squadron. 

Chief Smith, who is also a seargent with the Dallas Police Department, was an active duty member for five years before joining the reserves. 

"I wanted to become a civilian police officer, but still wanted to serve my country," he said. "It's the best of both worlds." 

According to the Unit Reserve Coordinator Guide to the IMA Program, the mission of an IMA is readiness. IMAs support or offset dwindling active duty manpower, such as a loss of units to a deployment. 

IMAs choose the days they train to meet their reserve requirements, which makes it easier to plan their life and to maintain balance in it, said Staff Sgt. Wendi Zook, an investigator with the 82nd SFS while on reserve duty. 

Sergeant Zook has the unique view of both a civilian and active duty member here on Sheppard as she is also an investigator for the Sheppard Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations in her civilian career. 

"I see the people I work with in both my jobs, it's a good transition," she said.
While IMA's are granted more flexibility in planning when they serve, they, like all military members, are subject to being called to duty at any time. The job of an IMA is to fill the holes in the Air Forces total force so that when an active duty member returns from deployment, their job has been maintained and kept running smoothly. 

"If they're over there (deployed) laying down their lives, then this is the least I can do," Chief Smith said. "Part of my life is serving my country." 

When not training or filling an active duty member's position, IMAs are free to pursue whatever career they wish as a civilian. 

"When you put the uniform on, you become active duty," the chief said. "It brings more discipline into your life as a civilian." 

IMA's, unlike typical reservists, are not part of a reserve unit. They're assigned to a squadron that is part of an active duty base. They work, train and even deploy with their assigned unit. 

When an IMA is on duty, there isn't a difference between IMA's and active duty, Chief Smith said, because they blend in. 

"It's a team concept," he said. 

"There is a sense of pride when wearing the uniform," Sergeant Zook said. "When you're not wearing it, in a way, you miss it."