(Using the Results of the After-Action Review)
The real benefits of AARs come from taking the results and applying them to future training. Leaders can use the information to assess performance and to immediately retrain units in tasks where there is weakness. Leaders can also use AARs to help assess unit METL proficiency. Immediately or shortly after the training event, leaders should conduct a trained-practiced-untrained (T-P-U) assessment and develop a future-training concept.
Leaders should not delay or reschedule retraining except when absolutely necessary. If the leader delays retraining, he must be sure the soldiers understand that they did not perform the task to standard and that retraining will occur later.
After-action reviews are the dynamic link between task performance and execution to standard. They provide commanders a critical assessment tool to use to plan soldier, leader, and unit training. Through the professional and candid discussion of events, soldiers can compare their performance against the standard and identify specific ways to improve proficiency
IMMEDIATE RETRAINING (SAME TRAINING EXERCISE)
Retraining may be immediately necessary to address particularly weak areas. By applying its learning, a unit can improve its performance to meet the Army standard. However, the focus of this effort is not to get an A or B; it is to improve soldier and unit performance. By the end of an AAR, soldiers must clearly understand what was good, bad, or average about their performance.
Field Manuals 25-100 and 25-101 require leaders to schedule time for retraining as a normal part of the planning process. The unit must retrain on the tasks which they did not perform to standard before the unit can go to the next training event. The unit must always retrain and perform critical gate tasks derived from the Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS) to standard before progressing to the next level of tasks. This reinforces the learning process by immediately correcting substandard performance. The unit must conduct any necessary retraining of supporting soldier or leader tasks before retraining on deficient collective tasks. This ensures that the unit can focus on performing the collective task. When there is not enough time to retrain the task or tasks, the leader must integrate it into the unit's training plan and reschedule it.
NOTE: Critical gate tasks are tasks grouped in a training event that a soldier or unit must perform and receive an evaluation for before progressing to more complex or difficult tasks or events. Commanders must prescribe the performance of the task to standard as a prerequisite for progressing to subsequent tasks or events.
Time or complexity of the mission may prevent retraining on some tasks during the same exercise. When this happens, leaders must reschedule the mission or training in accordance with FM 25-100 and FM 25-101. As part of this process, leaders must ensure that deficient supporting tasks found during the AAR are also scheduled and retrained.
REVISED STANDING OPERATING PROCEDURES
After-action reviews may reveal problems with unit SOPs. If so, unit leaders must revise the SOP and make sure units implement the changes during any future training.
THE AFTER-ACTION REVIEW IN COMBAT
Training does not stop when a unit goes into combat. Training is always an integral part of precombat and combat operations although limited time and proximity to the enemy may restrict the type and extent of training. Only training improves combat performance without imposing the stiff penalties combat inflicts on the untrained.
The AAR is one of the most effective techniques to use in a combat environment. An effective AAR takes little time, and leaders can conduct them almost anywhere consistent with unit security requirements. Conducting AARs helps overcome the steep learning curve that exists in a unit exposed to combat and helps the unit ensure that it does not repeat mistakes. It also helps them sustain strengths. By integrating training into combat operations and using tools such as AARs, leaders can dramatically increase their unit's chances for success on the battlefield.