An After Action Report (AAR) is a written report that documents a unit's actions for historical purposes and provides key observations and lessons learned. It is typically submitted after a training mission, combat operation or other mission.
AARs provide critical feedback from service members and units on mission and task performances in training and combat. These reports identify how to correct deficiencies, sustain strengths and focus on the performance of specific mission-essential task list training objectives.
These steps use this AAR Template to write a general report, where you identify issues and organize them by topics.
Check with your unit to ensure there are no further local policies or guidelines for this task.
In the memo heading, include:
- date of report
- who the report is addressed to
- who the report is from, i.e., the commanding officer and unit
- what the subject is, i.e., JTO After Action Report
- the applicable references
This section should include a description of the mission and intent.
In this part of the report, briefly summarize operations for all phases of the mission and include key dates. Details provided should answer the questions:
- Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- How many personnel/teams deployed?
- What was the time span of the deployment?
- What was accomplished?
Here are some things to consider during this step:
- Consider the phases of the mission, such as pre-deployment, deployment, redeployment.
- Make sure to examine both positive and negative issues.
- Think about the execution of planning, logistics and resources throughout the mission.
Using the phases of the mission, organize the pertinent issues into topics. These will be your headers for the AAR. The number of topics you include is dependent upon the number and type of issues you identify. Topics should follow a chronological order.
Address each issue using the observation-discussion-recommendation format in a bulleted list. Using this format means:
- Describe your observations.
- What was supposed to happen?
- What actually happened?
- Discuss the impact on the mission, your evaluation and provide a thorough, detailed and concise explanation of the issue (who, what, why, when, where and how).
- Make recommendations for future missions based on the lessons learned.
In the conclusion, review and summarize key points identified during pre-deployment, deployment and re-deployment. Be sure to link the conclusion to ways to improve future training.
Provide the point of contact information for the addressee to reach out for further information.
Write your signature at the end of the report.
Don't keep these valuable lessons to yourself. Upload them to the CAC-enabled Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLS)-site and/or other applicable locations depending on the classification of the operation.