An After Action Review (AAR) is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards, that enables firefighters to discover for themselves what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get maximum benefit from every incident or project.
The AAR was developed by the military in order to create an avenue for feedback, promote evaluation and improve unit cohesion. The AAR is now used worldwide by military organizations, governments and private industry. It is considered a valuable tool in high-risk professions where the smallest mistakes can lead to disastrous results.
It is essential for wildland firefighters to learn from our mistakes and to capitalize on our successes. The price we pay for failure can be exceptionally high and the amount of effort put into our successes is often left unrecognized. The objective of the After Action Review is to immediately identify these success and failures. Once they have been recognized, further exploration allows the team to perfect it's skills and be better prepared for future endeavors.
The After Action Review format can be adapted to a variety of audiences and environments. It takes time to develop, accept, and perfect, so be patient and don't forget to use and share what you learn.
The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee and the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center are the sponsors for this resource.