How to Write an After Action Report

Familiarize yourself with the correct format for writing After Action Reports.
Familiarize yourself with the correct format for writing After Action Reports. (Image: DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images)

An After Action Report, or AAR for short, is a document detailing and evaluating the actions previously taken by a group or individual as part of a goal-oriented exercise or series of exercises. Organizations often compile and review such reports to determine how they can maximize the success of its operations. To ensure that your After Action Report helps the organization in question improve its performance, familiarize yourself with the correct format for such a report.

Begin with the Executive Summary. Summarize the information in the After Action Report and indicate how the report will help the agency improve its performance. Include a brief overview of the exercise, the strengths demonstrated during the exercise and areas that require improvement. This is the most important section of the document, as it may be the only section of the After Action Report that others will read.

Describe each exercise, indicating the date and the exercise's total length. Identify any agencies and/or organizations that were involved. Include the number of participants and location. Provide information about the structure of the exercise, as well as the manner in which the exercise was carried out. Outline the goals and objectives of each exercise.

Describe the scenario used in facilitating the exercise. Indicate the modules used of the exercise and a time line for each stage of the exercise.

Analyze parties’ performance during the exercise, focusing on both the problem areas and successes.

Provide a summary of the participants’ feedback.

Outline a recommended plan for implementing improvements. Include action items, the party responsible for carrying out each and the expected time frame for completion.

Include a “Conclusion” section, in which you briefly summarize the previous sections.

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