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Learning lessons in the US Military- a summary of a meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Paul Reece

1 September 2015
Dr. Moria Levy
Police car

During this past august, I've had the chance to participate in a fascinating meeting initiated by the head of the Israeli Police Forces' Training and Doctrine Department with US Military representatives in charge of learning lessons in the American Army.

The main subjects raised in conversation were:

  1. The most critical and substantial factor affecting success is organizational culture. In order to succeed in the lesson learning process, the organizational culture must:

    1. Encourage self-criticism.

    2. Enable an honest and open debrief.

First enabling steps: a change of leadership. Leadership is a MUST for successful learning.

  1. AAR is implemented separately, in addition to an investigation (if one is required) and not as part of it. It is possible and recommended for said investigation to be performed afterwards. It should focus on principal issues and no names or details should be used in order to avoid blaming and shrugging off responsibility.

  2. DOT MPLF is an acronym which teaches a technique which enables directing regarding the lessons which the organization wishes to learn. In later stages it can also be used as a tool for determining an implementation channel. Hereby is an elaboration:

    1. D- Doctrine: updating professional doctrine

    2. O- Organization: organizational change

    3. T- Training: Instruction

    4. M- Materials: Materials & Accessories

    5. P- Policy: Policy and Procedures

    6. L- Leadership

    7. F- Facilities


  1. Informing people regarding the lessons learned is performed through commander meetings (especially regarding issues related to leadership, but not exclusively) while using intra-organizational networks.

  2. A lesson learning unit includes a sub-unit of 35 (!!) analyst in charge of analyzing patterns and trends identified in the lessons and of generalization processes. Note: Although I was indeed impressed by this large amount of analysts, I was explained that in an organization which includes 400,000 soldiers, this might not be such a large amount.

  3. The information is kept on two levels:

    1. Raw data- the debrief documents

    2. Recommendations- based on trends learned by the analysts.

  4. An evaluation is performed in regard to specific lessons, while review the improvement resulting from the change. Illustrating the probability is usually performed by describing anecdotes. There is no methodical evaluation.


From right to Left: Mark Shriller, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Weiss, Colonel Paul Reece, Dr. Moria Levy, and Commander Coby Sorerro.

It sure was an educational and fertile meeting. I wish to thank the head of the Israeli Police Forces' Training & Doctrine Department for the initiative and for allowing me to participate in this important meeting which may be the beginning of a long term relationship of cooperation. Thank you.


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