CAMP PENDLETON, CA --
Eleven Individual Mobilization Augmentee reserve Marines activated to participate in familiarization training at I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Nov. 1 - Nov. 5, 2023.
The training included briefs, personal development and unit comradery events designed to ensure reservists could seamlessly transition into I MIG operations during any future activation of the augmentee unit, which also emphasizes the benefits of the Direct Affiliation Program.
“The Direct Affiliation Program was created as a vehicle to encourage and incentivize active duty Marines,'' said Gunnery Sgt. John Luis, a reserve retention counselor with I Marine Expeditionary Force. “It allows active duty Marines to seamlessly transition to a reserve unit of their choice.”
Within the DAP, there are two part-time reserve components: the Selected Marine Corps Reserve and the IMA program.
“The SMCR is more of the traditional, one weekend a month, two weeks of active duty usually in the summer, completing mission essential tasks and classes,” said Luis. “These units are primarily reserve-commanded units. The IMA program allows reserve Marines who are qualified, trained, and ready, to attach to an active component to support certain exercises or tasks within that unit.”
The DAP acknowledges and preserves the rich skill sets and experience of active duty Marines by allowing them direct passage into reserve units, thereby preventing any service gap. This initiative is instrumental in retaining the Corps' reservoir of talent and expertise, ensuring that the reserves remain agile and deployment-ready.
I MIG’s IMA unit provides support to long-term planning and programming support for critical requirements within each section of I MIG. The unit is composed of 13 Marines, four enlisted personnel and nine officers.
“When new Marines come in, the basic guidance I give them is that in order to continue, we need to maintain our credibility, relevance, and have an impact,” said Col. John Colombero, I MIG Reserve detachment officer in charge. “If the unit we're supporting wants reserve support and keeps asking for it, then we're probably doing something right.”
The detachment Marines usually serve from different dispersed locations and at various times throughout the year, which limits their ability to gather in one place. As such, the IMA program does not require all of its members to meet in a single location. Typically, IMA assignments revolve around providing support during exercises and active component personnel turnover periods. Augmentee units are allotted 48 drills and 12 active-duty days for annual training each fiscal year.
“One of the reasons for this conference and for us to meet every year as a detachment and bring everybody in one place, is to impress upon the Marines the importance of developing relationships,” said Colombero. “Not just within our reserve detachment, but it's also a chance for them to further deepen their relationships with their active duty counterparts. This gives them a chance to understand what their leadership is thinking within their sections and understand what I'm thinking as their detachment commander.”
During their familiarization training, the Marines were able to gain a better understanding of I MIG operations from the command element perspective down to the individual battalions' perspectives.
“This program gives us the opportunity to continue to shape our reserve support model in support of the commanding officer's priorities and to refine that model so that we can provide the best level of support,” said Colombero. “It requires people having a solid grasp of my intent and my vision, which falls in line and is nested with the commanding officer's vision.”
Marines within the reserve detachment are essentially afforded the same opportunities as active duty Marines, but can also lead a civilian life. The DAP extends a rewarding opportunity for active duty Marines contemplating their next career steps to serve in a different, yet equally impactful capacity.
Sgt. Ilya Glazunov, a data systems technician with I MIG’s reserve detachment, was previously an active duty Marine with 1st Intelligence Battalion. He separated after the end of his contract and looked into commissioning into other military branches, but ultimately decided against it. Instead, Glazunov looked back into the Marine Corps and learned about the IMA.
“The IMA program fits my lifestyle,” said Glazunov. “As far as drills, it all depends on what the needs of my section are. If some of their Marines are on courses, I could take time off work to come and support them. If they need research done or help with their backlog, I can help them remotely.”
The IMA unit is indispensable to the readiness, flexibility, and capabilities of the I MIG. The performances of the Marines showcased the enduring strength and adaptability of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“If you're on active duty and you're thinking about getting out, ask yourself why?” said Glazunov. “If the answer to that question is, due to the high demands of active duty, I think the reserves is a breath of fresh air.”