Battle Creek, Michigan –
While Grace Hopper’s work with computers helped created important technology for the Defense Logistics Agency, several women used their leadership to help warfighters and allies use agency tools to harness logistics data.
Marine Col. Laura Sampsel was the first women to lead the Defense Logistics Information Service (now known as Logistics Information Services). Before coming to DLA, she commanded Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 in Hawaii. In an interview there she recalled her father, a 30-year army veteran, wanted his daughters to make good lives for themselves, but never pressured them to join the military in any way.
"My sister joined the army, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do," Sampsel said. "I eventually enrolled into Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, under the Marine Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship program."
A Michigan Legislative Tribute honoring Sampsel’s tenure notes that she guided DLIS’ efforts to establish a single DLA Customer Interaction Center and helped extend the DLA Enterprise forward to meet warfighter logistics needs through a structured deployment program. The deployment program ensured 17 essential positions are filled with qualified personnel every six months to provide expeditionary training and support for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program.
Sampsel was also praised for bringing DLIS logistics support to the nation of Iraq by personally engaging with Iraqi military leaders and their logistics personnel to provide information key to the building of an Iraqi national logistics infrastructure. Sampsel also initiated National Stock Number assignments for the F-35 Lightning II Program. She transferred from DLA in 2009 to command of the 33d Maintenance Group based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, as part of the Joint Strike Fighter Program.
Deborah Greger assumed leadership over DLIS when Sampsel left and became the first civilian to run the organization. Greger had previously served as the DLIS executive director (deputy to the commander) from 2006 to 2009. She began her federal career in 1982 in another part of DLA then known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service and now called DLA Disposition Services.
Greger dealt with many challenges working her way to the DLIS director’s chair. Before becoming its executive director she served as DLIS’ division chief for Configuration Management, the director for Requirements, Management and Control and the director of the Logistics Initiatives directorate. She once said that the variety in her previous positions has made her well-rounded and well prepared to serve as deputy.
“This job requires you to be involved with all aspects of the DLIS mission, both the technical and functional side, and how it impacts the customer…the warfighter,” Greger said.
One of the other female leaders at DLIS during Sampsel and Greger’s time was Elaine Chapman,
who went on to become the international logistics data program manager for the DLA Logistics Operations. Last year, Chapman also became the first woman from any nation to chair NATO’s Main Group for Allied Committee 135.
Chapman has long served as the U.S. representative on the committee, which oversees the system that allows NATO members and sponsored nations to share information on the millions of items they all use. In May; however, she assumed added responsibility as the leader of the committee.
“While it is important that I am the first female, it is more important that the United States is respected as a leader in the community, regardless of whether a person is male or female,” Chapman said. “It’s been some time since we have been Main Group chair and had the leadership role.”
Rick Maison was the last American to serve in the position from 2003 to 2006 while he also led DLA’s Defense Logistics Information Service. The only American chair before Maison was a man named R. Moore who led the committee from 1985 until 1987. Before assuming the post herself, Chapman chaired the Budget and Strategic Planning Subcommittee for four years.
“It’s good that we are back with high regard,” Chapman said.
The main group comprises the National Directors on Codification who run the National Codification Bureaus in their respective countries. Together, they oversee the NATO Codification System that captures the data collected by the bureaus. It is the NCS that offers access to the NATO Stock Numbers that identifies and describes the items of supply used by members. The data provides an internal logistics language to share materials for allied operations.