POTOMAC, Md., Jan. 25, 2007 - Military and other government decision makers are working this week to determine how best to use the government's powers to defeat an insurgency.

The annual exercise aims to keep international preparation and response procedures compatible in the increasingly complex 21st century security environment, officials said.

The handpicked players, representing every U.S. military branch plus interagency and international participants, gathered here yesterday in various "phase rooms" around u-shaped desks strewn with laptop computers and coffee cups.

Each phase room, or "cell," focuses on a distinct procedural step -- from operational design, planning process, interagency approach to campaign planning -- and players add pieces to the puzzle based on their unique expertise.

"There are many facets (to a nation's response)," former Ambassador David Passage, a War Game senior mentor, said. "We're not talking about straight lines and primary colors here. It's all a mosaic consisting of dots of different colors that together shape an image."

Marine Lt. Col Roger Morin said the war game represents a new effort from military planners to strengthen its bond with interagency members.

"We've built up a generation of (military) planners and commanders (who), by the very culture, are biased towards a solution," he said. "(This bias) creates an atmosphere that doesn't support campaign planning.

"The interagency has proposed it would welcome a forum for examining the problem, sharing an understanding of it, and share in planning the solution," Morin added. "It might assist in how (the military) does business with the interagency."

Increased cooperation between military and interagency planners could create conditions for developing a consensus toward understanding and managing an issue, he said.

Lt. Col. Daryl Campbell, of the Australian army, compared interagency cooperation to a large surgical team treating a disease.

"The first thing a doctor usually asks his patient is how did you get sick'" Campbell said. "You don't wake up one morning ... and find that there's a bloody great insurgency; something led to it.

"Most of the things that led to this were not military and can't be solved by the military," he said. "(The military) can go in there and stabilize the situation, but unless you address the root causes of what led to this, then it's going to flare up again because you didn't cure the virus."

When paired with military intervention, interagency effort is the other medicine that treats a conflict's cause, Campbell added.

"The U.S. military is capable of doing anything, anyplace, (but) should it be asked to do everything every place'" Passage said.

"Part of this exercise is that it's not all going to be Department of Defense," he said. "Everybody now understands that while you might want a single manager, (other departments) have got roles to play."

The Expeditionary War game helps explain how to mobilize those roles together, Passage said.