Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this handbook—the USAID guide on how to plan, prepare, and conduct an AAR—was developed by USAID Knowledge for Development (KfD) using the United States Army's TC (Technical Circular) 25-20 as a guide. The Army developed the concept of AARs as an essential training methodology for soldiers in preparing for both combat duty and ongoing programs such as peacekeeping.
As USAID works to achieve its development mission, learning from experience is essential. The After-Action Review (AAR) is a leadership and knowledge sharing tool that helps professionals within USAID and across the partner community to better understand important events, activities, or programs. That knowledge, gleaned from and compiled by those closest to the review, can be used by senior leadership to improve results and then can be shared with others who are planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating similar efforts. Managed and conducted by those closest to the activity, AARs identify how to correct deficiencies, sustain strengths, and focus on improved performance of specific tasks, activities, events, or programs.
It is essential that USAID understands the benefits of the AAR tool. When administered in a climate of openness, honest discussion, clarity and commitment to identifying and recommending solutions, the AAR can yield many benefits. The participants in the review—managers, leaders, and those planning to pursue similar activities in the future— will understand better what was originally intended, what actually happened, what went well and why, and what can be improved and how. Furthermore, the AAR report makes concrete and actionable recommendations for changes and improvements that will impact future success in carrying out this task or similar activities.