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Army identifies highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq

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WASHINGTON (AP) The Army on Tuesday announced the identity of the highest-ranking officer to die in the Iraq war, Col. Theodore S. Westhusing, 44, of Dallas, who died Sunday in Baghdad.

No details about the circumstances of his death were disclosed.

The Army said he died from ''non-combat related injuries.'' That is a category that includes death by accident, illness, act of God or suicide.

Westhusing was serving as a staff officer with the Multinational Security Transition Command, which is in charge of training Iraqi security forces. He was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Family members in Oklahoma had said after being notified of Westhusing's death late Sunday that he had graduated from West Point in 1983 and had doctorate degrees in Russian, philosophy and military strategy. They said he deployed to Iraq late last year. He was due to return to West Point this summer.

The Army did not publicly announce his identify until Tuesday, after a range of his relatives were notified.

Several lieutenant colonels have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, but no generals or colonels until Westhusing. The vast majority of the 1,673 members of the U.S. military who have died in the war have been enlisted soldiers and Marines, reflecting their more prominent role in direct combat against the insurgents.

The Army also announced Tuesday that a female soldier died in Iraq on Sunday, Spc. Carrie L. French, 19, of Caldwell, Idaho. She was a member of the 145th Support Battalion with the Idaho National Guard in Boise.

She was the 36th female soldier to die in the Iraq war and the sixth from the Army National Guard. All but one of the 36 have died since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May 2003.

Two Department of the Army female civilians also have died.

On the Net:

Defense Department: http://www.defense.gov


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