The announcement by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was based on a law called "Pay Our Military Act", which was passed by Congress and signed by US President Barack Obama shortly before the shutdown of partial federal government, the first in 17 years.
According to the statement, the Department of Justice said the law "does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians", but those employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.
Hagel said he asked the military departments and other department of defence components to identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories. Employees can expect to hear more information starting this weekend.
Earlier in the day, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill to pay back about 800,000 furloughed government workers once the current partial government shutdown ends.