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  • An after action review is a structured review or de-brief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event. After-action reviews in the formal sense were originally developed by the U.S. Army although less structured de-briefs after events have existed since time immemorial. Formal AARs are used by all US military services and by many other non-US organizations. Their use has extended to business as a knowledge management tool and a way to build a culture of accountability. An AAR occurs within a cycle of establishing the leader's intent, planning, preparation, action and review. An AAR is distinct from a de-brief in that it begins with a clear comparison of intended vs. actual results achieved. An AAR is distinct from a post-mortem in its tight focus on participant's own action - learning from the review is taken forward by the participants. Recommendations for others are not produced. AARs in larger operations can be cascaded in order to keep each level of the organization focused on its own performance within a particular event or project.

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