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Reserve Training Assemblies Unite IMAs

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Shannon Mann

Over the past 18 months, Individual Mobilization Augmentees from all over the United States had a chance to meet collectively during several Reserve Training Assembly events.

At the two most recent RTAs held at the Pentagon and Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in late spring, nearly 300 IMAs organized in-person and virtually for the National Capitol Region and Air Combat Command events.

Each conference offered a variety of topics over two days ranging from insights about Great Power Competition to updates about the U.S. Space Force.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Freeman, mobilization assistant to the Air Combat Command commander, presided over the event for ACC.

“We anchored the agenda to reflect Lt. Gen. John Healy’s vision for the Air Force Reserve to be Ready Now, Transforming for the Future,” Freeman said, explaining that topics supporting that vision ranged from global intelligence to senior leader perspectives.

“ACC’s IMA force is ready to do what is necessary to ensure changes related to Great Power Competition re-optimization are successful,” he said.

From matters of global interest to matters impacting IMAs on a tactical level, members of the Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness Integration Organization were present to answer questions at all training assemblies.

Col. Dixie Duke, IMA to the HQ RIO commander, gave an update on the various initiatives that HQ RIO has launched to improve the lives of IMAs.

“HQ RIO is continuously making efforts to improve how we take care of our 8,000 Individual Reservists every day,” she said. “IMA no longer means ‘I am alone,’… if you can’t get an answer, you can call or email me anytime.”
Duke took time to explain HQ RIO’s manning and how it stacks up against the sheer volume of calls, emails and taskers coming to its customer support personnel from the field.

“Know that we are doing everything we can every day to work within the confines of systems and policies to provide the best customer support we can, while looking for new ways of organizing and equipping our organization to do it better as we evolve to meet the nation's strategic near-, mid-, and long-term challenges,” she said. “Our efforts and desires to improve have the attention of our Air Force Reserve senior leaders. They support our efforts and continue to partner with us as we move forward.”

Customer service continued to be a hot topic as IMAs learned more about the retirement cell and met one-on-one with counselors. IMAs also received a briefing from the IMA Strategic Review team, who launched a new office dedicated to Individual Reservists in December 2023. This new office is called the IR Strategy Office.

“There is now a strategic level voice in the room that is advocating for you,” said Brig. Gen. Mary-Kathryn “MK” Haddad, ACC Director of Intelligence mobilization assistant, during her update on the IMA Strategic Review and its launch of the new IR Strategy Office. She explained how the recently launched office provides strategy, oversight, governance and advocacy to the IR portfolio and helps unify IMAs.

“This office is a benefit to people in the field. From Unit Reserve Coordinators to Reserve Advisors to policy makers at the Pentagon, this office is the single focal point for IMAs.”

While each assembly was unique, they all provided programs that directly benefit IMAs careers. IMAs received key information on topics such as digital force protection and GigEagle which they don't often hear about when performing their annual tour or inactive duty training days. IMAs also received on-site, hands-on tactical casualty combat care training at ACC's RTA.

Staff Sgt. Kelsey Hipnar, U.S. Strategic Command IMA, attended the National Capital Region’s RTA.

“I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to support the NCR RTA to engage with members on a national level,” she said. “The connections and knowledge I gained were simply priceless.” She is excited to help her organization plan an event in 2026.

Duke said that events like these offer IMAs a chance to not only hear from senior leaders on current efforts and strategic level insights, but they also provide a chance to network with each other.

“I have been told my entire career that networking is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and others. You never know when you'll randomly run into someone you met years ago who needs your help, and you could make all the difference in someone else's life,” she said. “These events encourage networking. They are crucial to our development and shaping our thinking for the future.”

Reserve Training Assemblies are planned for months in advance and notifications are sent out in various ways via official means, personal emails and social media. The RIO Buzz newsletter is sent bi-weekly and is a great resource for updates on what is going on within the IMA community.

(Mann is a member of the IMA Strategic Review Team)