Tuesday marked the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim observance that spans the length of approximately one month. This year, Ramadan extends from 15 May to 14 June. Ramadan is a staple of the Muslim faith, though various people in various sects in various parts of the world all observe it differently.

Typically, with Ramadan comes fasting during daylight hours. That means refraining from eating, drinking and having sex, along with other things depending on where you are, from dawn to dusk. Similarly, the liturgical Christian observance of Lent uses fasting as a way to strip ones-self of physical necessities and reflect upon things religious and spiritual.

Those who devote themselves to the observance of Ramadan are largely not religious extremists, though extremists may take meaning of their own from the month. For most Muslims across most nations, it’s a time of reflection, religious study, teaching and community building in local areas.

Palestinian women preform at Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Gaza City, Sunday, June 25, 2017. | AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

How does this relate to military operations?

One might expect that the onset of Ramadan would significantly stifle fundamental Islamic extremists in their ability to fight (assuming it is observed). Hungry soldiers are never going to be as effective as soldiers who have been well-fed and hydrated, and many a battle has been swayed due to one side’s inability to feed or provide water to their troops.