Speaking to a group of 200 soldiers in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Gates drew Army cheers of “Hooah” from the crowd when he eased their concerns about the government shutdown and said “first of all, let me say you will be paid.”

Gates’s comment came during a question and answer session when one of the soldiers about how the government shutdown might affect them. He then joked, “as a historian it always occurred to me the smart thing for government was always to pay the guys with guns first.”

Turning serious he explained to them how if there is a government shutdown, days the troops in the field would get half a paycheck for this pay period, but get back pay in the future.

“But in all seriousness, based on some stuff I read this morning, if the government shuts down starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you’d get a half a check. 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 and I’m, you know, frankly, I remember when I was your age I did a lot of living from pay check to pay check and so I hope this thing doesn’t happen