2 May NY Times - U.S. Changes Guidelines for Troops to Lessen Everyday Tensions With Iraqi Civilians by Thom Shanker.

American commanders in Iraq are taking steps intended to lessen the chance for violent confrontations between their troops and innocent Iraqis during the daily routines of operating checkpoints and running convoys, senior military officers said.

The changes reflect deep worries that the conduct of American soldiers continues to alienate many Iraqis, despite three years of efforts by the American military to promote greater awareness among the troops of how their actions are perceived.

The changes are meant to avoid confrontations that escalate into the use of force, for example by substituting signs or other gentler warnings for the firing of warning shots, or using strobe lights to make sure civilian drivers approaching checkpoints can see the Americans clearly.

Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, took the unusual step of forwarding to his two-star Army and Marine Corps commanders recent articles in the British press that condemned American forces for what were described as unnecessary levels of rough behavior.

"I don't think it hurts us at all to take a look at it, and ask some tough questions about how we're perceived and how we act as soldiers here in Iraq," General Chiarelli said in a recent telephone interview from his headquarters near Baghdad. "It falls in line with what I'm trying to do in urging a higher level of understanding and cultural sensitivity."

There is no doubt that in the three years since the invasion, American forces have alienated Iraqis in large numbers, ranging from the catastrophic events at Abu Ghraib prison, where Iraqi detainees were abused by their American jailers, to more minor yet daily insults, when some soldiers have used unnecessarily rough techniques at checkpoints, in raids and during searches.

Some unit commanders in the field say the guidelines may make it harder to protect their troops. Some even warn that the emphasis might result in hesitancy among their soldiers when there is a real threat, and hinder their ability to carry the fight to the insurgency...