Army Col. James F. Russell, 45, who had served in infantry, airborne, and military police units for the past 24 years, died of cancer Tuesday at Walter Reed Hospital.

Col. Russell served two tours of duty in Vietnam, the first as an adviser from 1964 to 1965, and the second from 1970 to 1972.During his second tour, he commanded a U.S. military police battalion in Saigon.

He was a personnel operations officer at Army headquarters in Washington from 1966 to 1967, and was a member of the staff of the National Emergency Airborne Command Post at the Pentagon from 1969 to 1970. For the past year he had been deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and security for the Military District of Washington.

His decorations included the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. He also held a master parachutist badge.

Co. Russell was a native of Hope, Ark., and a 1956 graduate of Henderson State Teachers College in Arkansas. He earned a master's degree in law enforcement administration at Michigan State University and was a graduate of the Naval War College and the Armed Forces Staff College .

In addition to assignments in Germany and Panama, he had been provost marshal, first of the 82nd Airborne Division, and then of the XVIII Airborne Corps, both at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the 1970s.

He was a resident of Alexandria.

Survivors include his wife, the former Susan Brownson, of Alexandria; a son, James Gavin, of Falls Church; an daughter, Shannon of Washington; his mother, Lois M. Russell of Hope; a sister, Jane Taylor of Hope, and a brother, D. B. Russell of Dallas.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.