What's the Difference Between an AR and a DA PAM?
All of the different publications of the U.S. Army are governed by Army Regulation 25-30, 14-JUL-2021.
In short, an AR tells you what the rules are, and the DA PAM tells you how to comply with the rules.
Check out this video for a quick explanation.
AR stands for Army Regulation, and is basically the laws the Army has developed to govern how the Army operates. Many ARs have punitive consequences for violating or failing to comply. Chapter 1 of the AR 670-1 includes a paragraph about the authority of the regulation:
AR 670-1 1–6. Authority
a. Portions of this regulation are punitive. Violation of the specific prohibitions and requirements of specific portions by Soldiers may result in adverse administrative action and/or charges under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
The AR 25-30 defines an Army Regulation as:
An AR is a publication that sets forth missions, responsibilities, and policies; delegates authority, sets objectives, and prescribes mandated procedures to ensure uniform compliance with those policies. Mandated procedures in Army regulations are required and authoritative instructions that contain the detail needed to make sure basic policies are carried out uniformly throughout the Army. These mandates procedures also ensure uniform implementation of public law, policy guidance, and instructions from higher headquarters or other Government agencies, such as JCP, OMB or DOD.
DA PAM stands for Department of the Army Pamphlet, which is primarily informative, but not punitive.
- Is used to publish information (such as how-to procedures) needed to carry out policies prescribed in ARs.