This book was awesome. It primarily featured Yamas as the go-to counter terror (CT) direct action (DA) unit of the IDF, so I have to say I felt a little slighted there, but it did give credence to Duvdevan and a few other units named. A friend of mine from my unit first turned me on to the book after finding it on Amazon. At first I was skeptical, having served in the IDF in one of these units. After performing in these capacities, my reference point was a little different than the average reader of this book. I honestly I thought this was going to be another political science 10,000 foot view of the IDF counter terror policy and targeted assassinations. I was wrong. This book was an extremely detailed account of ground level gunfights we participated in over the last 25 years. This book was motivating and inspiring.
The IDF is a tight-knit organization and people know each other. There are living legends and characters that make names for themselves in the field and then go on to be great leaders of generations of warriors to come. That is how you are judged in the IDF, by your work in the field, like Sparta. I was amazed at how the author got access to information that was at one point coveted as top secret tradecraft and had in-depth accounts of missions. He clearly had personal knowledge and friendships within the IDF and police.
Some of his accounts were so detailed I was able to draw from my experience and picture the events taking place as if I was there. Some of the mission profiles he describes in the book took place during my tenure and I knew of the mission even though it was our sister unit Yamas and not us (like the Itamar attack). Katz does a great job of telling the story of the three Yamas units in their geographic locations, founding, and mission sets.
Duvdevan, Yamas, and Yamam are the three units spoken about in the book, but only Yamas is given a detailed account of characters and missions. While these units are very similar, there are some differences worth noting. Most obviously, Duvdevan is part of the IDF while the other two are part of the police (although the IDF and police can operate in some cases interchangeably). The Yamam is the national hostage rescue unit of Israel and is comprised of a small group of men who are drafted specifically to that unit after service in a unit like Yamas or Duvdevan or other front line combat. The Yamam is indisputably the most selective unit in Israel, has the hardest selection, and holds its members to the highest standards. Yamas is a unit to which one can get selected and serve in their first three years of service. There are three Yamas branches covering different geographies of Israel. This makes for mastery of operational areas. Yamas has a limited mission set of counter terror and direct action almost exclusively, while Duvdevan can perform a wider variety of missions and has a much more generous budget than the two police units. Training in the three units is very similar, so there are some missions in which each unit could perform almost equally and some in which one unit will have an advantage, like hostage rescue, for example, or undercover work in Gaza. The book details much of this and made me appreciate the operational tempo of the Yamas when compared to other units internationally and the experience that can be gained in such a short period of service.
What most don’t know is that one’s military service experience in the IDF is highly dependent on the political climate. Up until 2008 these units along with many others not mentioned in the book gained a lot of operational experience with back-to-back missions and constant objectives. Since that period there has been a period of calm in which a mission only the Yamam would get today, every Palsar was participating in 6 years ago. When the next wave of violence comes, the new generation will have plenty of work to do.
I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking of joining the IDF or anyone wanting to understand the type of warrior the IDF produces. This book did a great job of demystifying some aspects of IDF CT/DA units. Gunfighters on the highest level.
- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; 1 edition (18 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592409016
- ISBN-13: 978-1592409013
- Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.5 x 23.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 717 g
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