In 2005, an average of one Iraqi civilian every day was killed by coalition forces in incidents at checkpoints or roadblocks or alongside convoys, according to statistics compiled by the United States military in Baghdad.

Thus far in 2006, the number of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints, roadblocks or along convoys has dropped to an average of one per week, according to Thursday’s New York Times, which cited those same military statistics.

The number of civilian deaths so angered fresh commanders who arrived in Iraq at the start of the year that a three-star general ordered an internal review, resulting in new guidelines.

“If you believe, like I believe, that the insurgency over time has repopulated itself, you have to ask the question why has that occurred? I think this is one of the reasons,” Lt. Gen. Pete Chiarelli told Stars and Stripes in March. “What I’m trying to tell you — every time we do this we’re creating more people that shoot at us, make bombs and plant bombs.”

Even before, units had recognized the problem and began to take action, Stars and Stripes reported in March.

“I’m told that 20 Iraqis a month are killed accidentally in EOF incidents,” Col. Brian Jones, commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, wrote in a newsletter in February.

“Let’s really work hard on our EOF procedures,” Jones wrote. “We need kits that block a road well up front of our lead and trail vehicles. Sawhorses, cones, signs, spike mats and similar tools help prevent these unfortunate circumstances from arising.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in May that the U.S. military also has moved to equip thousands of M-4 rifles with the 10½-inch-long laser-emitting device, which projects an intense beam of green light to “dazzle” the vision of oncoming drivers.

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