TODAY   |  November 23, 2013

‘Average women’ wanted: Colonel resigns after controversial email

There has been a shakeup in the Unites States Army. One female colonel has stepped down from her job after suggesting attractive women should not be portrayed in promotional materials. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> a female colonel has stepped down from the united states army after suggesting that attractive pem should not be portrayed in promotional stories. a lot of people fascinated and surprised about this.

>> reporter: one of the striking things about the story is colonel annette earnhart her words set off a small firestorm and very serus consequences. e army is looking for a few good men and women but it's the debate over how good looking the women should be in these promotional materials that let this colonel to step down from her job on friday. the colonel was in charge of an army research project examining women transitioning into combat roles bilitary officials tell nbc news she got into hot water for writing an e-mail to some ofer colleagues arguing the army should use more average looking women in their ads. according to politico, her e-il also stated, in general, ugly women are perceived as competent, while pretty women are perceived as having to use their looks to get ahead. such photos undermine the rest of the message and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty. those words met with a strong backlash inside the ranks and from representative jackie spear who tweeted another example that at u.s. army just doesn't get it as it debates if pretty girls should be use in pamphlets. an army spokesman tells nbc news the comments cited were an internal e-mail conversation. this is not an army position. this summer, the army announced that by 2016 , women will be able to apply to all military occupational specialties across the force. military analysts say there should be a laser focus on implementing that goal.

>> the fact is women have been in combat a long time. the issue o whether or not women in advertisements, whether or not they are pretty detracts everybody from the real issue at hand. howo you operate agriculturize having wom in combat units?

>> reporter: an army public affairs officer who received that e-mail was suspended after forwarding it. nbc news did try to contact colonel arnhard and we dent hear back from either of them. thousands of positions are open to women in combat and cnn jack jacobs saying this shouldn't be one of