Since 1944, when the U.S. captured Kwajalein from the Japanese, it has been used for military purposes, while escaping the tragic fate of nearby Bikini Atoll. Eleven of the 97 islands comprising Kwajalein Atoll are now leased by the United States from the RMI government to accommodate the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, or RTS (formerly known as Kwajalein Missile Range, KMR). RTS includes radar installations, optics, telemetry, and communications equipment which are used for ballistic missile and missile interceptor testing and space operations support.
Kwajalein Island is the southernmost, and the largest, of the islands in the Kwajalein atoll. The northernmost, and second largest, island is Roi-Namur. These are the two main islands used by the U.S. U.S. staff and their families are accommodated in trailers or hard housing. The population of Kwajalein island is approximately 2,500. The neighboring island Ebeye has the largest population in the atoll, with approximately 10,000 residents.