WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 26, 2013) -- As the Army begins downsizing, a personnel official said Soldiers who leave active duty should consider the opportunity to continue serving in the Army Reserve as individual mobilization augmentees.About 1,300 individual mobilization augmentee, or IMA, positions are currently open with Army commands worldwide, said Lt. Col. Steven Kesling, chief of Reserve Programs and Policies Branch, G3, at Human Resources Command.A total of about 4,000 authorized IMA positions exist at approximately 75 Army commands ranging from Department of the Army staff level on down to battalion-level units. A large number of those positions are for senior noncommissioned officers, known as NCOs, and officers, Kesling said."Most of those authorizations are going to be E-7 through E-9 and O-4 through O-6 kind of opportunities," Kesling said. "It gives the Army an opportunity to train a reserve-component Soldier who can be used relatively immediately and reactively in contingency situations."IMA Soldiers work predominantly with and for active-duty commands instead of in Reserve units, known as troop program units or TPUs, he explained."Support to the active component or staff is the primary significant difference between the IMA and TPU," Kesling said. The IMAs train with active units, he explained, in order to be available to augment them during contingency operations.The requirements for a satisfactory year of credit toward retirement, Kesling said, are the same for IMAs as for reservists serving in TPUs.In order to receive a satisfactory year of service, Reserve Soldiers are required to accrue 50 retirement points. In addition to the 15 membership requirement points, accredited to all Selected Reserve Soldiers, they are required to perform 12 days of annual training. A point for each day gets them to 27 total retirement points. They may also perform up to 48 periods of inactive duty for training, or IDT, (also one retirement point for each period) to get to the 50 retirement point minimum for a qualifying retirement year.IMAs must coordinate their annual training and IDTs with their unit leadership, but are not required to perform them as weekend drills.The big difference between IMA and TPU reservists is that under IMA status, reservists usually have far more flexibility on when they can drill and when they can perform their annual training, Kesling said."IMA Soldiers can manage their time and reserve days to pursue their civilian interests at the same time, whether they're in school or working," he said. "They don't have to do the standard two weeks in the summer or the one weekend a month throughout the year. They're free to do them all at once, or they can space them out, depending on the needs of the Soldier and the needs of the unit."Kesling noted in some cases when there are schedule conflicts between the reservist's availability and the unit's needs, both will try to meet somewhere in the middle when possible.The payoff to the active Army comes when the unit is possibly called upon to deploy, he said."They can call on this IMA Soldier who they've trained over the last months or years, who knows the unit, who knows the people in the unit and who knows the job," Kesling said. "He can be called up very quickly and start straight off as soon as he walks in the front door."The IMA program is an excellent opportunity for Soldiers who want to continue to serve their Country, while pursuing civilian career or schooling alternatives, Kesling said. The IMA program avails Soldiers to benefits such as: extra income; Servicemen's' Group Life Insurance, known as SGLI; tuition assistance; medical/dental insurance coverage (requires premium payments); Space available travel; commissary and Post Exchange privileges; etc.Soldiers who are interested in the IMA program may contact HRC (888) 276-9472 or go to the HRC website www.hrc.army.mil and look for the IMA link at the bottom-middle of the page.