[Ed. – It’s important not to oversell this, as either a tragedy for the troops or a great badge of cultural sensitivity. Remember, it applies to troops who are subsisting outside of U.S.-controlled areas. In U.S.-controlled areas, such as our major bases in Bahrain and Qatar, troops eat and drink as they normally would during the day.]
A top commander in southwest Asia reminded U.S military personnel stationed in Muslim countries in the Middle East of the restrictions placed on them during Ramadan. According to a report by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. John Quintas, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander in Southwest Asia, said that the U.S. is “committed to the concepts of tolerance, freedom and diversity.” But he added that soldiers should “become more informed and appreciative of the traditions and history of the people in this region of the world… [R]emember we are guests here and that the host nation is our shoulder-to-shoulder, brothers and sisters in arms, risking their lives for our common cause to defeat terrorism.”
During the 30-day religious celebration of Ramadan, even non-Muslims are expected to obey local laws regarding eating, drinking, and using tobacco in public. Violators can be fined up to $685 or receive two months in jail. A spokesperson for United States Central Command [CENTCOM] said that “we are not aware of any specific instances of anyone being arrested” for such violations.
For military personnel outside of U.S.-controlled areas, the only exceptions for the rules are for those “performing strenuous labor.”