The US annexed Wake Island in 1899 for a cable station. An important air and naval base was constructed in 1940-41. In December 1941, the island was captured by the Japanese and held until the end of World War II. In subsequent years, Wake was developed as a stopover and refueling site for military and commercial aircraft transiting the Pacific. Since 1974, the island's airstrip has been used by the US military, as well as for emergency landings. Although operations on the island were suspended and all personnel evacuated in August 2006 with the approach of super typhoon IOKE (category 5), damage was comparatively minor. A US Air Force repair team restored full capability to the airfield and facilities, which remains a vital strategic link in the Pacific region.
defense is the responsibility of the US; the US Air Force is responsible for overall administration and operation of the island facilities; the launch support facility is administered by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA)