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Published: 10:40 GMT, 6 March 2015 | Updated: 17:52 GMT, 6 March 2015

Dozens of soldiers from a battalion famous for using the emblem of a vicious comic book avenger to strike fear into the enemy in Afghanistan are heading to Iraq with ISIS in their sights.

The Telemark Battalion is an elite mechanised infantry unit of the Norwegian Army which has been involved in the fight against the Taliban as part of the NATO-led security mission since 2003. 

Around 50 soldiers from Telemark will be heading to the city of Irbil in northern Iraq to train Kurdish forces to help them in their fight against Islamic State, the Norwegian ministry of defence has confirmed. It is thought the mission will begin in early April.

Scroll down for video 

The patch worn by Telemark Battalion soldiers (left), recalls the Punisher symbol of Marvel's comic book vigilante (right), with the words 'Jokke - we will never forget' honoring fallen comrade Claes Joachim Olsson

A Telemark soldier in action in Afghanistan. The battalion has been involved in the fight against the Taliban as part of the NATO-led security mission since 2003 and lost two soldiers in the conflict, including Olsson

ISIS fighters in Aleppo, Syria. Telemark troops are travelling to northern Iraq to train Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against the extremists 

Some instructors will also be sent to the Iraqi capital Baghdad in the hopes of stemming an insurgency which now controls large tracts of northern Iraq and Syria.   

The Telemark Battalion attracted headlines in 2010 when reports emerged some of its soldiers were spray-painting the Punisher symbol on houses and property belonging to Afghans suspected of being members of the Taliban. 

The Punisher is a Marvel Comics antihero and vigilante who slaughters criminals and mobsters and has a striking skull-shaped emblem.

Since the death of Claes Joachim Olsson - known by his nickname 'Jokke' - in January 2010, some members of the unit took to wearing patches featuring the Punisher logo and the words 'Jokke - we will never forget'.

The 22-year-old was killed when the storm tank he was travelling in was hit by a Taliban roadside bomb southeast of the village of Ghowrmach in northwest Afghanistan. 

Telemark Battalion commander Major Rune Wenneberg (pictured centre in the green beret) fires up his troops in Afghanistan with the rallying cry 'To Valhalla!'   

The insignia of the Telemark Battalion (left), which was lead by the fierce Major Rune Wenneberg (right)   

Telemark soldiers in Afghanistan, where they became famous for spray-painting the Punisher symbol on houses and property belonging to Afghans suspected of being members of the Taliban

The wearing of Punisher patches was subsequently banned by the Norwegian military leadership, though some soldiers reportedly continued to do so. 

Following Olsson's death a video emerged of company commander Major Rune Wenneberg firing up his troops with a rousing battle cry name-checking Valahalla, the mystical hall of Norse mythology where specially chosen warriors go after they've been killed in combat.

During the footage Wenneberg reportedly cries: 'You are the predator. Taliban is the prey. To Valhalla!', as his troops punch their weapons in the air in support. 

One former soldier knows who firsthand how ferocious Telemark fighters can be is American Charles Stanley, who helped provide logistics for units from the Norwegian battalion when they underwent two weeks of cold weather training in preparation for deployment to Bosnia in the late 1990s.

The 51-year-old, who is a former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, told MailOnline they would be a fierce asset to Kurdish Peshmerga troops in their efforts to combat murderous extremists.

He said: 'ISIS should fear them for sure. They didn't hold back in work or play and when they went to the task of battle that was all of the business they cared for until the mission was completed. 

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter is pictured in September 2014 firing at Islamic State positions from the top of Mount Zardak, 25 kilometres east of Mosul in northern Iraq. Fighters like him are soon to benefit from the expertise of the Telemark Battalion - some of the fiercest soldiers in the world

ISIS fighters on the march. Charles Stanley, a former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, says the jihadists should fear the Norwegian forces being sent to aid their Kurdish enemies

ISIS has now expanded its reach across much of northern Iraq and holds the city of Mosul, around 90 kilometres from the Kurdistan capital Irbil, to where the 50 Telemark soldiers are being sent 

'ISIS is a force of uncontrolled chaos and they have no discipline or defined battlefield strategy other than overcome by force.

'This well-trained and disciplined unit of Norwegian soldiers would be able to make very short work of any ISIS soldiers they encountered.'

Now a director of technology at a Catholic high school in Modesto, California, Mr Stanley added: 'My take on them is that they were a very aggressive and rugged team of warriors.

'They had the attitude of whatever comes our way we will demolish it, be that from eating chow to driving their mechanised vehicles. 

'There was no half way with them - it was all or nothing in everything they did. I have a long history with airborne paratroopers and they are some of the toughest soldiers in the army, on and off duty - they train hard and play even harder. 

'The Telemark Battalion guys were every bit if not more rough and tumble.

'I would say compared to other country's soldiers they were among some of the most competitive and competent warriors that I have ever worked with.

'When we were in [Operation] Desert Storm [against Saddam Hussein in 1990] their equivalent would have possibly been the French Foreign Legion soldiers as far as ferocity and competence goes.' 

American Sniper Chris Kyle, who had his own take on the Punisher symbol, which can be seen here on his cap

Kyle's logo, with the Punisher skull and cross hairs

The 11-year veteran of the 82nd Airborne and father-of-one, whose son is currently serving in the US Army, says the Punisher symbol was not being used when he worked with the soldiers.

He said: 'That incident didn't happen until later in Afghanistan and I was aware of it and heard the stories. 

'That type of scare tactic has been employed for many years by many armies - the Vietnam War had its death card ace of spades, and now they have moved to spray-painted skulls and comic book reference symbols.

'Chris Kyle the American Sniper had his also.'

Kyle is known for using a variation of the Punisher symbol himself, featuring the words 'Despite what your momma told you...violence does solve problems'. 


The Telemark saboteurs back in Britain after the incredible raid. Six Norwegian soldiers destroyed Hitler's nuclear dream in February 1943 at the Norsk Hydro plant near the town of Rjukan, Norway

The Telemark Battalion share a name with a group of legendary Second World War saboteurs.

The Heroes of Telemark (pictured), carried out a famous raid which helped thwart Hitler's plans to build a Nazi nuclear bomb.

The team successfully destroyed a heavy water production facility at the Norsk Hydoelectric plant in Telemark, a region of southern Norway, in 1943.

The raid, which is regarded as one of the most successful acts of sabotage in the whole war, was also remarkable for the fact all the team managed to escape by cross-country skiing 250 miles into Sweden.

The heavy water or deuterium oxide which the Norsk plant produced, was essential to the German scientists working on an atomic bomb project and the allies were desperate to destroy it.

It was no soft target. Perched on an icy ravine, surrounded by machine gun-toting guards and floodlights the plant was virtually impregnable.

But the six-man all Norwegian squad from the Special Operations Executive, trained at Brickendonbury in Hertfordshire, managed to parachute in and get the job done.

In what was known as Operation Gunnerside, the raiders broke into the plant and set charges, the explosion of which caused 1000lbs of heavy water to wash away.

They then made their remarkable escape, imortalised in the 1964 Hollywood film The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.








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