What is an After-Action Report (AAR)?

All discussion-based and operations-based exercises result in the development of an AAR. The AAR is the document that summarizes key information related to evaluation. The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) has defined a standard format for the development of an AAR. By using this format, jurisdictions ensure that the style and the level of detail in their AAR is consistent with other jurisdictions. Consistency across jurisdictions allows the nation-wide emergency preparedness community to gain a broad view of capabilities.

The length, format, and development timeframe of the AAR depend on the exercise type and scope. These parameters should be determined by the exercise planning team based on the expectations of elected and appointed officials as they develop the evaluation requirements in the design and development process. The main focus of the AAR is the analysis of core capabilities. Generally, AARs also include basic exercise information, such as the exercise name, type of exercise, dates, location, participating organizations, mission area(s), specific threat or hazard, a brief scenario description, and the name of the exercise sponsor and POC.

The AAR should include an overview of performance related to each exercise objective and associated core capabilities, while highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. Therefore, evaluators should review their evaluation notes and documentation to identify the strengths and areas for improvement relevant to the participating organizations’ ability to meet exercise objectives and demonstrate core capabilities.