Today’s SOF Pic of the Day features President Biden posing with Israeli Yaman operators. Thankfully, their faces are all covered.

So, what is Yamam?

YAMAM is an acronym for the Special Central Unit (in Hebrew: “Yehida Merkazit Meyuhedet”) of the Israeli Border Police. The YAMAM is Israel’s Tier One domestic counterterrorism and hostage rescue unit. They are adept at both hostage rescue operations and direct action raids in urban areas. Additionally, the unit can facilitate high-risk arrests, security of distinguished visitors, and various counter-terrorism operations. They are known for their sniper capabilities, urban warfare, and close-quarters combat skills, among other specialized abilities.

Yamam with Barrett
Yamam snipers train with a Barrett MRAD.

Israeli Special Forces and Barrett Firearms

Over recent years, a distinctive alliance has emerged between the Israeli Special Forces (SF) and Barrett Firearms, fostering early adoption and customization of Barrett models to meet specific operational needs.

The inception of this relationship can be traced back to the early ’90s when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) procured a few Barrett M82A1 samples for remote Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) tasks. The pivotal point arrived in the mid-’90s when the M82A1 was extensively issued to both regular and special units, primarily for anti-material purposes. However, by 2008, a shift was observed as the IDF embraced the H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 0.338LM, marking its foray into large caliber sniping platforms, thereby sidelining most M82A1 models.

Fast forward to the early 2010s, Israel’s elite domestic counter-terrorism unit, YAMAM, sought a versatile multi-caliber platform to replace an array of sniping rifles in use, including the PGM 7.62mm and 0.338LM models. Amidst reluctance from European arms manufacturers to support Israeli forces due to political considerations, the focus shifted towards procuring a U.S.-made weapon. In a significant move, YAMAM, in 2013, adopted the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD), positioning itself as one of the early global adopters alongside Norwegian Special Forces, much before the U.S. military recognized it as the MK22.

suppressed MRAD
In this photo supplied by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, we see an integrally suppressed Barrett MRAD on display.

As time progressed, the IDF SF felt the need to rejuvenate its sniping arsenal, particularly replacing the less durable H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 0.338LM and the aging M24, the latter having served as the standard 7.62mm sniping platform since 1996. Drawing from YAMAM’s successful stint with MRAD, the IDF SF onboarded the MRAD in 2017, marking a new chapter in their sniping capabilities.

Simultaneously, the IDF SF identified a gap for a new integrally suppressed sniping platform, as the existing ones, like the PGM, were aging and faced parts scarcity due to their European make. In response to this, Barrett swiftly developed a unique integrally suppressed variant, showcasing the agility and responsiveness of their partnership.