As an Airman, I have had many amazing life experiences. I’ve traveled around the world and worked with many brilliant, inspirational people. As a former squadron and group commander, I have seen our Air Force provide airlift and combat power, deliver humanitarian aid, and provide countless other awe-inspiring acts of assistance at a moment’s notice.
Nothing I witnessed would have been possible without our world-class Reserve Citizen Airmen. As team lead of the IMA Strategic Review, taking great care of our 7,500 individual mobilization augmentees is a task I feel very passionately about. When Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. published his Action Orders last year, they really codified what we were doing.
Our traditional Reservist brothers and sisters have their unit’s assistance to submit order requests, file travel vouchers and process their pay. It is more challenging for our IMAs. At times, our current self-service legacy systems struggle to make it easy to serve and free to focus on the mission.
Submitting orders requests, going TDY, filing travel vouchers and staying green is time consuming and often frustrating. Action Orders A and B, Airmen and Bureaucracy, are a call to action for the team on these issues.
We as IMAs are not alone in our frustration. The Air Reserve Personnel Center, the Readiness and Integration Organization, unit reserve coordinators and others want to improve how we accomplish our standard actions so we can spend more of our time on our mission, not admin. They are tasked with ensuring our readiness, but struggle to maintain the manning to do this. And, they are also hamstrung with old information technology requiring a lot of individual, manual processing.
As IMAs, we operate under a shared administrative control where our admin support is split between our active component unit and AFRC, causing seams. There is an opportunity to mend these seams that exist between our active component unit and our AFRC support providers.
The IMA Strategic Review Team was formed by Lt Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve, with the task of researching and analyzing the IMA program to better align it with the National Defense Strategy, strengthen relationships with our active component partners and improve support to our IMAs. His mandate, coupled with Action Orders A, B, C (Competition) and D (Design), give the team the grit and guidance it needs to dig in and get after real solutions.
This work has resulted in four lines of effort to make the IMA program more responsive to both the mission and our IMAs through integrated product teams. One is prototyping a concept to leverage innovative skill sets to quickly respond to emerging threats, which supports Action Order C.
Another is exploring ways to simplify the shared administrative control to make it easier for the active duty unit and the IMA. This supports Action Order D.
There is an integrated product team being led by HQ RIO to explore the next evolution of the organization as HQ RIO 2.0.
The final integrated product team is prototyping an expanded presence at the Air Staff level to improve IMA program oversight, promote proactive billet management and increase advocacy for IMAs with our active component partners.
Bottom line – we are working to have better advocacy and a clear strategic vision for the IMA program to ensure we meet what the Air Force requires of us as we get after the National Defense Strategy and our pacing threat. We are working to simplify how administrative control works for IMAs.
Our integrated product teams are collaboratively working all of these areas so we can spend more of our duty time on our wartime mission. In the next four months, we will continue to test our ideas and iteratively improve them. We will present our plan to the chief of the Air Force Reserve in October, with the goal to begin implementation soon after.
As the world’s greatest Air Force and Air Force Reserve, we owe it to our IMAs to provide the best vision and support possible so our talented Airmen can get after the mission!
For more detailed information about the IMA Strategic Review Team’s work, go to here.
(Banavige is the IMA Strategic Review Team lead and the mobilization assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.)