Kaho`olawe, at 44 square miles in area and one of the smallest of the eight major islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, had been inhabited by a small population of Hawaiian residents up to the beginning of World War II when the U.S. military began using it for training troops for the war in the Pacific. After the war ended, an Executive Order by the President of the United States turned Kaho`olawe into a military reservation, and transferred control over to the United States Navy which ruled the island with heavy -handed authority. Over the next 50 years, the U.S. Navy transformed the island and the waters that surrounded it into a veritable, environmental wasteland of unexploded ordinance. All the while, the Navy continued to maintain its position that using Kaho`olawe as a military reservation and bombing target was absolutely essential to national security. During these five decades, the people of Hawai`i bowed to its military might and political lobbying to keep the Executive Order in place.