The U.S. Army is the oldest and the largest branch of the U.S. military. In 1775, one year before the Declaration of Independence was written, the Continental Congress authorized George Washington to take command of all troops raised and to be raised in defense of the colonies. That single authorization forms the foundation of the Army. The Army considers June 14, 1775, its official birthday. From the beginning, the mission of the Army has been to protect and defend the United States using land forces. With that mission in mind, the Army has evolved over time from the various state militias which made up the first Continental Army, to the highly organized branch it is today. The Army’s motto is “This We’ll Defend,” with the core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. The first letter of each forms an abbreviation of the word “leadership” (LDRSHIP).