Cheap technology can have a big impact. In this case, adding green lasers to Humvees can reduce civilian casualties and improve military relations with the communities.

The laser signals civilians to back away from patrols or to stop at checkpoints.

Under the old system, there were a number of accidents.

If a car did not stop, the guards would fire a warning shot. This, not unexpectedly, caused the driver to panic. Sometimes they stopped, sometimes they made a U-turn, sometimes they hit the gas and went forward. If the driver went forward, the soldiers were forced to shoot him. There is no way to tell the difference between an innocent and a car bomber.

This caused problems as many drivers were innocent. Investigations would be made and the US gave money to the victim’s families. US soldiers were accused of being recklessly aggressive if they killed a civilian or complacent if a car bomb killed them. It was a bad way of running checkpoints, but in 2003, there were not many alternatives.

These days, you don’t hear about these types of accidental shootings. Ever wonder why? The US-run checkpoints and patrols use green lasers. It’s a simple new addition to Humvee turrets. Instead of firing warning shots, they flash the drivers with the green laser. This tells them to stop at a checkpoint or move away from a patrol.

The Iraqis are used to the situation so they know the rules. Green lasers are a clear signal and don’t cause panic like gunshots. And it’s more visible in daylight and at night than red lasers. This tool has prevented a number of civilian casualties. Iraqis cooperate more and there have been far fewer accidents as a result. Simple and cheap.