Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel  testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense on Jan. 31, 2013.
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Pentagon: Most furloughed civilians ordered back

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is ordering most of its approximately 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work.

The decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is based on a Pentagon legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act.

That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.

Hagel had made clear earlier in the past week that Pentagon lawyers were trying to determine ways for some of the Defense Department's 400,000 furloughed civilians to get back to work.

He told reporters traveling with him Tuesday in South Korea, "It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question: Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies?"

The Pentagon did not immediately say on Saturday exactly how many workers will return to work. The Defense Department said "most" were being brought back.

The law ensured that members of the military, who have remained at work throughout the shutdown, would be paid on time. It also left room for the Pentagon to keep on the job those civilians who provide support to the military.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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