The Army After Action Review, also known as an AAR is one of the Company Commander’s most valuable training tools available.
An AAR is simply a thorough analysis of a past training event.
The purpose of an Army After Action Review is to review what went right and what went wrong during a training event.
That way, the unit can improve the next time they do a similar mission.
As a Company Commander, you must use the AAR to your advantage.
At the end of every training exercise you should conduct a formal After Action Review with your key leaders and Soldiers.
That way, you can get input from everyone’s perspective, not just your own.
The secret is two way communication.
So, how does an After Action Review work?
It’s actually quite simple.
Listed below we will discuss the Army AAR format or Army AAR template.
Step 1: Pick a location for your Army After Action Review.
Set a start time for the event.
Get a butcher block of paper or dry erase board on site.
Make sure there is adequate seating and/or standing room.
Step 2: Once everyone is present, review the mission and concept of operations for the mission.
Tell everyone what was supposed to happen.
Step 3: Review what actually happened.
Step 4: Identify what went right.
What went according to plan?
Step 5: Identify shortcomings.
What went wrong?
Ask your key leaders and Soldiers for their opinions, too.
Step 6: Identify what you could have been done better.
What could the unit have done differently to achieve success?
What will your unit do differently in the future?
Step 7: Adjourn the Army AAR and publish the results.
Remember, AARs must be a two-way conversation.
It’s not just the Company Commander talking.
Seek input from your First Sergeant, Company Executive Officer, Platoon Leaders and Platoon Sergeant.
Don’t forget to get your Soldiers input too.
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At the conclusion of the AAR prepare a memorandum for record.
Give a copy to your Battalion Commander and to your key leaders.
In addition, file a copy away in your After Action Review folder or book.
That way, you can reference the AAR for future training events.
In addition to having company level Army AAR briefs, Company Commanders must ensure their Platoon Leaders, Platoon Sergeants and Squad Leaders are having platoon and squad level AARs.
Company Commanders should give each subordinate leader a copy of TC 25-20 and teach his or her subordinate leaders the right AAR format.
In conclusion, the Army After Action Review is one of the Company Commander’s greatest tools.
The secret is to conduct a formal Army AAR after every major training event.
Follow the AAR format and AAR template and you will position yourself for success.
If you are looking for a reference on After Action Reviews, use Army FM 25-101, Appendix G or TC 25-20.
If you have any questions or added tips for AAR subjects, please post below.
We will attempt to answer them as soon as possible.