POLITICS
04/08/2011 12:19 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2011

Military Pay: How A Government Shutdown Affects The Army

As Congress continues its race against the government shutdown clock, one of the key questions surrounding the looming standoff is military pay for the American troops currently fighting three wars.

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates put it during a recent Q & A session in Baghdad, the government should "pay the guys with guns first."

So while compensating military members is unquestionably a priority, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) the "Department of Defense will have no legal authority to pay military members or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down."

With that in mind, here's a quick explainer on how army personnel will be affected by a potential shutdown.

1. Military personnel
Although military personnel will still be required to report for duty, a government shutdown would, at least temporarily, halt or stagger scheduled payments, according to the DFAS. Once the dust has settled and an agreement is reached, active military members will be compensated for duty performed during the shutdown.

"If the government shuts down starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you’d get a half a check," Gates told the troops. "If it goes from the 15th to the 30th, you wouldn’t get a pay check on the 30th but you would be back paid for all of it. So that’s the deal"

2. Civilian employees
According to the DFAS, civilians employed by the military will be compensated for days worked through April 8. Pay will resume once an agreement is reached.

3. Retired military veterans
Retired military servicemen and women are not paid through the current Continuing Resolution Act, so their compensation and benefits will not be affected should a government shutdown go into effect.

4. Government contractors
Military contractors will continue to be paid depending on terms, funding and the necessary tasks.

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