cover, a title page, a summary sheet, text,
enclosures, and perhaps an index and bibliography.
Reports according to purpose -Prepared for a
Problem-determining reports -Present your
attempt to find the causes underlying a problem or
to find out whether a problem really exists.
Fact-finding reports -Present data in a logical
order, without an attempt to draw conclusions.
Performance reports -Present information on the
status of activities or operations.
Technical reports -Present data on a specialized
Problem-solution reports -Present an analysis of
the solution of a particular problem. This type of
report is presented in various forms, such as verbal
reports, letters, staff studies, estimates of a situation,
and operational plans and orders.
Other reports may be prepared in the form of lessons
learned reports, point papers, staff studies, and talking
Lessons learned reports are brief statements or
outlines of problems encountered during a recent
operation, exercise, or evolution. A lessons learned
report is drafted both to keep the commander
informed and to be used as a guide in the future. A
prudent senior or master chief will retain a file of
lessons learned to use in future planning for
inspections, deployments, fleet exercises, and so
forth. You should turn over your lessons learned file
to your successor so that he or she can benefit from
the lessons you have learned.
Lessons learned are excellent references for
analyzing problems. When appropriate, lessons learned
can give creditability and support to other reports, such
as point papers. They are valuable when presenting
arguments for developing policy or as a basis for
changing existing policy. When writing your lessons
learned, include the following information about the
Describe the environment in which you learned
Describe what happened.
Describe why it happened.
Propose a solution or recommendation.
A lessons learned report is useful and sometimes
required by certain commands. Some commanding
officers insist that lessons learned reports be submitted
after every major evolution and used as a basis for
follow-on reports to superior commanders. Lessons
learned should be written after any of the following
Mishaps or near accidents
Major fleet exercises
A lot has been learned and practical strategy
has been developed in certain areas through
lessons learned reports. These areas include law
enforcement operations with Coast Guard units,
defense against high-speed terrorist boat attacks,
and rescuing survivors at sea. Write lessons
learned reports whenever experience has taught
you something that may prove useful in the
The Point Paper
A point paper is one of the most useful ways to
communicate your ideas to others in a direct and
objective manner. It is one way to solicit a decision or
to inform the command and superiors of the
The presence of a problem
The formulation of new ideas
Methods of improvement
A point paper can also be used to bring up issues for
discussion in conferences, to help develop policy, and
to resolve differences.
To be effective, the point paper must be concise
and come to the point right away, addressing only one
item per paper. It should be limited to one page.
Headings should be clear and concise so that the
reader can quickly identify the problem and the
A variety of styles may be used for point papers.
The style used is simply a matter of preference. The