JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – The evolution of the U.S. Army Installation Management Agency to present-day Installation Management Command over the past 20 years has postured the command to continue to improve Quality of Life for Soldiers, Families, and Civilians and support Army readiness as our Army transforms to be ready for our Nation’s call today and tomorrow.
“When you look at where we are from where we were, centralizing installation management was the best decision the U.S. Army could’ve made,” said Randy Robinson, IMCOM Executive Deputy to the Commanding General. “It gave Soldiers and families more predictability of services based on the Army’s resource capability level, and now the Soldier can expect very similar services from one installation to the next.”
The idea of centralizing installation management started in 2001 under Thomas E. White, then the Secretary of the Army, and came to fruition Oct. 1, 2002, with the activation of IMA.
Secretary White established the Headquarters, Department of the Army Realignment Task Force to review headquarters functions. Before this effort, there were 15 major commands under HDQA, and those ACOMS were responsible for their respective installations. There were no set standards for the installations, and the installations were divided into “haves” and “have nots.”
IMA’s creation helped eliminate those inequities, focused on installation management and allowed the warfighter to focus on the primary mission of fighting and winning the nation’s wars.
“I thought the concept of consolidating base operations’ funds and services under a single agency versus under 15 different commands was a great idea,” said Jon Low, Soldier, Education, and Transition Administrative Services and Integration Division Chief for IMCOM G1, who was the Director of Logistics for the 100th Area Support Group in Grafenwoehr, Germany, when IMA stood up.
“There were no common levels of support across the Army major commands, and the establishment of IMA did a lot to fix this. We’re still making improvements to this day.”
IMA was the culmination of one of the largest organizational shifts in U.S. Army history. IMA’s first headquarters was located in Arlington, Virginia, and divided into seven regions: Northwest, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois; Southwest, Fort Sam Houston; Northeast, Fort Monroe, Virginia; Southeast, Fort McPherson, Georgia; Europe, Heidelberg, Germany; Pacific, Fort Shafter, Hawaii; and Yongsan, South Korea. Maj. Gen. Anders Aadland served as IMA’s first director from 2002-04.
“The beauty of building an organization from the ground up is that you start from scratch,” said Robinson, who was the IMA Southeast Chief of Staff before taking over IMA Northwest. “From the Northwest perspective, it was a very small organization, and the only expertise they had out there were logisticians and engineers.”
What the organization might have lacked in numbers, it more than made up for it in work ethic, Robinson said.
“That was, without question, one of the most high-performing organizations I’ve ever worked for,” he said. “We were able to take great engineers and logisticians and put them into other positions. The morale was phenomenal, and those employees did their best to bring those people up to the same ethos and work ethic. An amazing organization.”
The stand up of IMA also coincided with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and IMA’s benefits were immediately evident, said Dan Smith, Chief of the Live Training Branch for IMCOM HQ’s G3/5/7 Directorate.
“Conceptually, it’s a brilliant idea because it relieves commanders of the burden of day-to-day service and support operations in the garrisons since you have another command taking care of that while they can focus on the training mission. IMA, and now IMCOM, providing those services ensures the soldiers and their Families are taken care of while the mission commanders are deployed doing their operational mission.”
IMA transitioned from a field operating agency to a command in 2006.
Former Secretary Francis Harvey and former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker signed General Order 38 that created IMCOM as a three-star command and as a direct reporting unit to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, now known as the Headquarters Department of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G9.
The General Order also integrated U.S. Army Environmental Command and the Family Morale Welfare Command as commands subordinate to IMCOM.
IMCOM created new initiatives to further installation management such as developing strategic sourcing that enabled installations to make larger bulk purchases; implement proven business strategies such as Lean Six Sigma, which generated more than $1 billion in efficiencies; and partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the MILCON transformation to provide projects faster, at lower cost and within scope.
It was not without its growing pains, however, as the IMCOM commander was also responsible for ACSIM. Splitting the responsibilities wasn’t doing either program justice, Robinson said.
“It was a major distraction to making it more efficient,” Robinson said. “The right decision was made in 2015 to resource with another three-star where IMCOM had separate designation and reported directly to the Chief of Staff of the Army.”
In 2019, IMCOM became a major subordinate command under Army Materiel Command to establish unity of command and effort across the garrisons while maintaining its core competencies of Soldier and Family Services, maintaining the regular Army’s infrastructure, supporting warfighter readiness and deployability, and providing and integrating base operations services.
“Something we like to say is we have the power of the patch,” Robinson said of the AMC patch that adorns an IMCOM Soldier’s uniform.
“Everything we do, it falls under one command. We’re able to collaboratively work together with the other AMC commands through routine battle rhythms to ensure we integrate and deliver the high quality of services for Soldiers, Families and Civilians.”
Lt. Gen. Omar Jones is the sixth commanding general of IMCOM, and he is well aware of the first twenty years of this dynamic organization.
“IMCOM has endured a tremendous amount of change in its first two decades of existence,” said Jones. “The net result is today IMCOM is perfectly positioned to continue improving Quality of Life for Soldiers, Families and Civilians and strengthening the readiness of our Army today and into the future.”