PLOWS After Action Review


The PLOWS format was developed as an alternative to the standard After Action Review Template by the “Ruby Mountain Hotshots” US wildfire firefighting group during the 2011 fire season, driven mostly by the efforts of Craig Cunningham.

It stands for Plan, Leadership, Obstacles, Weaknesses and Strengths.


State the plans that were in place. Follow up by asking any relevant questions.

  • Did everybody know what the plan was?
  • Was the plan sufficient to accomplish the objectives?


  • What leadership was in place?
  • Was the chain of command clear?
  • Was Leader’s Intent communicated and sufficient?


  • What obstacles were encountered and how were they mitigated?


  • What were weaknesses that should be improved upon?
  • How will they be improved?
  • Is follow-up action required?


  • What were strengths that should be sustained?
  • How will they be sustained?

Additional questions?

Although not part of the PLOWS mnemonic, this format suggests finishing on an open note.

  • Are there any additional questions or topics that should be discussed?


“After Action Reviews | NWCG.” n.d. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Cunningham, William Craig. 2012. “Plows Brief.”

“Two More Chains.” 2013. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.