Football returning to troops overseas

The American Forces Network (AFN), which had cut its sports channel and nearly all programming because of the government shutdown, is returning to full service for troops overseas.

The television network, which provides U.S. television and radio programming for troops stationed abroad, said Sunday that it was able to start putting all of its channels back on the air, after the Pentagon determined that most of its civilians would be recalled to work.

“AFN has been cleared to start returning to service!” the network wrote on its Facebook page

“It will take us a couple of days to get our full channel lineup on the air, but we're going to broadcast each additional channel as it becomes available. We know that many of you follow popular shows, and we will work to address airing the episodes you've missed.”

AFN had stopped airing all TV channels besides news during the shutdown, which meant that NFL games and the MLB playoffs went dark for troops overseas.

"We determined we do not have a sound policy or legal basis to air the sports channels at this time because it is not deemed critical to accomplish essential aspects of the DMA [Defense Media Activity] mission in direct support of excepted military operations and activities," AFN wrote on Thursday, before the Pentagon decided to end most civilian furloughs.

The network said it decided to air two NFL games on its news channel Sunday: the Denver Broncos vs. the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Houston Texans.

On Saturday, AFN also aired the Navy vs. Air Force football game on its news channel.

“Please continue to be patient with us as we get everything back to normal,” the network said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday that a law passed last week allowed the Defense Department to recall all civilians “whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”