WASHINGTON - There were no explosives, no simulated battle scenes and consequently no panicked passersby Wednesday on the steps of the Canadian Embassy on Capitol Hill.

Instead, embassy officials scrapped plans to stage mock Afghan battle scenes during a two-day forum on Canada's mission in Afghanistan, opting to stick with far quieter panel discussions indoors.

The sedate nature of the two-day forum was in stark contrast to the five Hollywood-style demonstrations that were to take place inside the embassy's courtyard featuring Afghan-American actors, fake shrapnel and simulated IEDs in a mock village battle scene.

The demonstrations were scrubbed soon after media reports questioned whether the explosions would frighten D.C. residents.

Eight years on from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the city is as jittery as ever: Witness the panic that erupted on the anniversary date earlier this month when a routine Coast Guard training exercise near the Pentagon, where President Barack Obama was attending a memorial service, resulted in a scramble of FBI agents, grounded airline flights and plenty of red faces.

Bearing in mind the national mood, Canadian officials made the decision to scale back the demonstration - a move they admit ended up obscuring its original purpose.

"Unfortunately, it did take away a lot of attention from the rest of the forum," Canadian Forces Lt.-Col. Douglas Martin, the public affairs attache at the embassy, said Wednesday.

"But from a Canadian perspective, that attention has brought more attention about what's going on in the U.S. and that we have a very effective embassy here ... although the Afghan village isn't here, it's not going to affect the actual outcome of the forum."

On a steamy autumn day, those in attendance - American generals, Capitol Hill power brokers and Afghan experts among them - remained within the embassy's sleek interior, taking in a morning panel on simulation training conducted in Canada and the U.S. in preparation for deployment in Afghanistan.

An Afghanistan-style luncheon followed that session, featuring kebabs and pita bread. After lunch, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official was among those discussing policing efforts in Afghanistan.

Martin said one of his goals in organizing the forum was to educate both Canadians and Americans alike about what their soldiers were doing in Afghanistan.

He added that although those in U.S. military circles are well aware of Canada's eight-year commitment in Afghanistan, he still encounters Americans who are unaware of the Canadian mission.

"Unfortunately, in my three years here, I've met a lot of Americans who still ask me, 'Is Canada involved in Afghanistan?' That's one of the reasons I wanted to do this forum," Martin said.

In fact, he pointed out, Canada has a wealth of information to share with the United States. Canada's combat mission ends there in 2011, while U.S. President Barack Obama has committed 68,000 American soldiers to the country this year, and is pondering even more troops.

"Canadians approach things a little bit differently than Americans, but the fact of the matter is the problems are the same and we can learn from each other to maybe make our work overseas more effective," Martin said.

"We're a quieter country, but we're a fierce country, and when our soldiers are put into a position where they've got to fight, they don't lose."

Martin's original goal with the faux battle scenes was to show Americans exactly what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. The city granted permits and both the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security were aware of the demonstrations.

A California-based company was in charge of the staging and pyrotechnics, promising to bring the "magic of Hollywood" to the demonstrations.