An After Action Review (AAR) is a learning tool intended for the evaluation of an incident or project in order to improve performance by sustaining strengths and correcting weaknesses. An AAR is performed as immediately after the event as possible by the personnel involved. An AAR should encourage input from participants that is focused on (1) what was planned, (2) what actually happened, (3) why it happened, and (4) what can be done next time. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get maximum benefit from the experience gained on any incident or project.
When possible, the leader of the incident or project should facilitate the AAR process. However, the leader may choose to have another person facilitate the AAR as needed and appropriate. AARs may be conducted at any organizational level. However, all AARs follow the same format, involve the exchange of ideas and observations, and focus on improving proficiency.
The AAR process has been successfully institutionalized in many military and private sector organizations. The interagency wildland fire community has also adopted the AAR as doctrine and conducting AAR’s regularly has become standard operating procedure for capturing and disseminating critical organizational knowledge. Like many other organizations, the wildland fire community continually experiences learning that remains isolated, short-lived and trapped in the memories of individuals or separate units. The AAR begins a process that consolidates, distills and disseminates knowledge throughout the entire community of practice through the Lessons Learned Center. At both organizational and individual levels, AAR's will help hone wildland fire skills, knowledge and abilities. The format for the daily AAR is found on page 17 of the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG.)
AAR Tips & Tactics Sheet (59 KB doc posted 031705) A single page summary of the instructions and recommendations included in our other AAR documents for your use as an AAR facilitator. This page was updated in cooperation with the NWCG Leadership Development Team March 2005. Page 2 (or the back side printed double-sided) provides 11 useful tips on how to be a better AAR facilitator prepared by: Mark Smith/Mission-Centered Solutions & Mike DeGrosky/The Guidance Group, December 2003
Improving After Action Review (AAR) Practice, M. DeGrosky, 2005 Safety Summit (135 KB pdf posted 5/5/2005) "As a vehicle for capturing and learning from experience, the AAR provides an effective tool of continuous learning for the organization. It is within this organizational learning context that this paper suggests ways to improve AAR practice within wildland fire agencies, and advocates three strategic actions necessary to systematically and comprehensively use the AAR process in wildland fire agencies."
Total Recall, M. DeGrosky, Wildfire Magazine Article (505.3 KB pdf posted 12/14/2005) After action reviews go a long way toward improving performance and reducing common error. But an effort to integrate the process into fire operations is needed. Michael DeGrosky addresses this issue and includes tips for conducting effective AARs.