Catastrophic Disaster Response Staff Officer's Handbook
After Action Review (AAR) Considerations
The National Response Plan (NRP), (December 2004) requires the federal coordinating officer (FCO) to submit an after action report (AAR) when a centralized federal coordination presence is no longer required.
Army Regulation (AR) 11-33 established the After Action Review System. Major command (MACOM) reports will include input from subordinate units down to battalion level. A recommendation for brigade and battalion reports is to include input from all attached elements. The Army's Training Circular (TC) 25-20 provides thorough guidance on preparing an AAR.
The U.S. Army conducts AARs for both training exercises and operations and provides a standardized format to identify:
- Unit identified problems with the commanders’ solution.
- Better ways of doing business (no changes required to current doctrine, training, organization, material and leadership).
- Commanders identified problems that require Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA)/Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) action to solve.
MACOM reports will include input from subordinate units down to battalion level. A recommendation for brigade and battalion reports is to include input from all attached elements.
The format below is compatible with the Joint After-Action Reporting System (JAARS) but was modified from the JAARS format by the Army in order to eliminate redundant work for AAR issues with joint implications. It will serve as the commanders’ input to JAARS.
Part I: Executive Summary (completed by commander)
—Dates, locations, and major participants
Part II: Lessons Learned
Part III: Optional
—Chronology of events
—Operations plan (OPLAN) and/or operation orders (OPORDs)
—Standing operating procedures
The AAR format is often modified. The following are divisional formats used for recent operations:
Each brigade, battalion, task force, and staff section AAR was formatted as:
The NRP requires the FCO to submit an AAR when a centralized federal coordination presence is no longer required. A format is neither shown nor discussed.
Prior to July 2003 FEMA used a written AAR format with areas, Issue #, Issue Topic, Statement, Issue Description, Issue Recommendation. This is very much like the Army’s AAR format: Issue, Discussion, Recommendation.
FEMA news release, dated July 23, 2003, Release Number: HQ-03-RAMP, introduced the Remedial Action Management Program (RAMP). RAMP does away with AARs and is designed to identify and capture those procedures that worked well and those that did not more quickly and effectively to ensure they are addressed and resolved by the appropriate functional program areas.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA both have written AARs based on the information gleaned from the RAMP Hotwash. The formats used were very similar to the Army’s format shown above.
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