On 14 June 1775, the Second Continental Congress established “the American Continental Army.” The United States Army is the senior Service of the Armed Forces. As one of the oldest American institutions, it predates the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For almost two and a half centuries, Army forces have protected this Nation. Our Army flag is adorned with over 180 campaign and battle streamers, each one signifying great sacrifices on behalf of the Nation.
Because of the Army, the United States is independent and one undivided nation.
1-1. Why we have an Army
It is the intent of Congress to provide an Army that is capable, in conjunction with the other armed forces, of…
Preserving the peace and security, and providing for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States;
Supporting the national policies;
Implementing the national objectives; and
Overcoming any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.
Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 3062(a)
1-2. What the Army uniform represents
For Soldiers it means that they are part of something far bigger than themselves…it is an opportunity to serve this great country and to make a difference in this world.
For Army families, the uniform is a source of both pride and anxiety, knowing the sacrifices ahead.
For our veterans, it represents one of the most important periods of their lives…pride in service, accomplishments, and a life-long connection to the comrades that they served with and in some cases lost during their time in uniform. Our Veterans are Soldiers for Life.
For the American citizen, Soldiers are their sons, daughters, relatives, neighbors, and during disaster, their lifeline. They see in us patriotism and selfless service—men and women in whom the Nation takes collective pride and who they see as heroes. And as heroes, they become disappointed and disillusioned when we do not live up to their expectations.
People around the world recognize the American Soldier as a symbol of the United States…Soldiers represent freedom, democracy, and stability.
To our allies, Soldiers presence signals an American commitment during a crisis.
To our enemies, the American Soldier represents strength and resolve, and a commitment to defend the Values that we hold dear as a Nation and as a people.
As Soldiers, we are committed to do our duty to contribute to the “common defense;” we share a love of our country and of our Army Family; we defend American values that frame the nation as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; and we serve “not to promote war, but to preserve peace.”
1-4. The Army’s Motto – “This We’ll Defend”
Department of the Army Emblem
The Army’s motto remains as relevant today as it did at our Nations’ founding. The pronoun “We” reinforces our collective or team effort and “Defend” remains our Army’s main mission. The Army continues this pledge into the future, as we have done since 1775.
1-5. Oath of Enlistment
Members of the American military profession swear or affirm to support and defend the Constitution of the United States—not a leader, people, government, or territory.
That solemn oath ties service in the Army directly to the founding document of the United States. It instills a nobility of purpose within each member of the Army Profession and provides deep personal meaning to all who serve.
The Army Profession derives common standards and a code of ethics from common moral obligations undertaken in its members’ oaths of office.
These standards unite members of all services to defend the Constitution and protect the nation’s interests, at home and abroad, against all threats.
By taking the Oath of Enlistment, you have committed yourself to living up to the ideals that we as a nation hold dear; to protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States; and to follow the orders of the President of the United States and the designated civilian and military leadership appointed over you. This is a heavy burden and one we are confident you are up to the challenge.
Chapter 2 – The Army as a Profession
2-1. The Army Profession
The Army profession has two broad categories of professionals—uniformed military and non-uniformed members.
These professionals comprise two complementary and mutually supporting communities within the Army Profession: The Profession of Arms and the Army Civilian Corps.
Profession of Arms: Uniformed members of the Army Profession—Soldiers. This includes the Regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve.
The Army Ethic: An evolving set of laws, values, and beliefs, deeply embedded within the core of the Army culture and practiced by all members of the Army Profession to motivate and guide the appropriate conduct of individual members bound together in common moral purpose.
“Professionals are guided by their ethic; the set of principles by which they practice, in the right way, on behalf of those they serve – demonstrating their Character. This is their identity. Likewise, as Army Professionals we perform our Duty according to our Ethic. Doing so reinforces Trust within the profession and with the American people.”
General Raymond T. Odierno
38th Chief of Staff, United States Army