A Pentagon official said most of the department's furloughed workers -- the lion's share of about 400,000 workers sent home when the government was shut down Tuesday -- will be called back to work.
President Barack Obama signed a law just after the shutdown began that mandated military personnel -- about 1.4 million men and women in uniform -- would be paid during the shutdown. The law allowed the Defense Department to recall workers as it saw fit to do so, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"I'm not a lawyer, but I do have some appreciation for common sense, and common sense tells you that if you're working for the Department of Defense, you're supporting the defense and the security of America, and you're supporting those who are on the front lines," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said before the recall was announced.
The Journal said Democrats and Republicans had been urging Hagel to exercise his authority to recall workers.
Besides defense workers, there is a defense industry that also relies on a functioning federal government to keep men and women at work.
The Aerospace Industries Association said tens of thousands of private sector workers could be laid off if the shutdown persists.