The U.S. military is investigating the death of an airman killed Wednesday in a noncombat incident at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Air Force Maj. Stephen Khou, 36, of Philadelphia, deployed to Kuwait as an active duty cyber officer with Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that began in 2014.

About 13,000 U.S. troops work on military bases across Kuwait as part of a longstanding partnership with the tiny Gulf country.

At home, Khou was assigned to the 32nd Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The squadron offers graduate-level training in offensive and defensive cyber warfare for officers as part of the Air Force Weapons School.

He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, then commissioned through Officer Training School in 2012, according to his public LinkedIn page and Air Force records.

Khou began his career in cyber warfare while earning master’s degrees in systems engineering and cyber operations at UCLA and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Before arriving at Nellis, Khou worked for a Germany-based detachment of the 83rd Network Operations Squadron, according to LinkedIn. The unit defends the Air Force’s digital networks and helps ensure clear lines of communication across U.S. air units in Europe.

In 2019, the Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network named him its top officer “Defender of the Year.”

He has earned the Pentagon’s Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Force Achievement Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals as well.

Khou’s death is the second announced by the U.S. armed forces so far this week. On Thursday, an American soldier died in an on-duty military vehicle accident at an Army training range in Kuwait. The military is withholding the service member’s name until 24 hours after their next of kin are notified.

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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