I thought it was obvious he was referring to the American soldiers that were there to test the bomb. We have no idea how they go to the island though. Maybe they got to the island the same way 815 and the beechcraft did. They crashed there. Maybe that's why the bomb casing is comprimised.
Richard made this comment to Daniel. So does it lend credence to the possibility that the island is visible and attainable in the past?
This is a very good question, lost to me with all the other stuff shown last night.
As other posters have mentioned, do we assume the island was more accessible in the 50s than later on, but getting off the island was still difficult? Did the military just set up for an H-bomb test on what they thought was just another island in the general vicinity? Was there no scout team, that would presumably make at least a cursory study of the island, LEAVE, and make a report?
I agree that he was referring to the american soldiers and the H-bomb tests but Dharma couldn't have been too long after this...I would think maybe 10 years or so. And he did say "come to the island" and not "land on the island" or "crash on the island". With the way he asked the question it does make it appear as if they know where the island is and can get there (whether easily or not...we don't know).