Confinement section Air Commandos enforce excellence

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- When standards of integrity, service and excellence are not maintained, Airmen are may meet with members of the 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron’s confinement section.

“Confinement is a program that the Air Force uses to house personnel who are convicted in a court martial of punitive articles of the UCMJ, which are articles 77 through 134,” said Staff Sgt. Ali Williams, 27th SOSFS confinement NCO in-charge. “It is necessary to house potentially hostile members or members who violate UCMJ laws and are prosecuted to the highest extend and convicted by court martial. Either they fulfil their sentence and are rehabilitated to become Air Force assets, or they are separated from the United States military.”

As a level one facility, the 27th SOSFS is capable of housing four inmates or varying custody grades at any given time.

“Our tempo here is sporadic,” Williams said. “We may in-process two inmates in on week, or no one for six months; however, we are able to house as many as four inmates for up to 12 months. For sentences longer than one year, inmates are transferred to larger facilities, capable of housing them long-term; sentences longer than six months generally require the approval of the Mission Support Group commander.”

The confinement section has processes and action plans in place to address virtually every scenario.

“With approval, we are also able to house inmates of opposite sexes,” Williams said. “That being said, we usually transfer the member whose sex is in the minority to Roosevelt County. For example, if we are housing two males at the time a female is sentenced to confinement, we would most likely transfer the female inmate to Roosevelt County.”

When in-processing the confinement section, an inmate should not expect to be welcomed with the greetings characteristic of 27th SOSFS who stand guard at Cannon’s gates. Inmates wear no rank once convicted, and are afforded no niceties. 

“These inmates are used to having a title, responsibility and being a valued member of a team,” Williams said. “That ends when they come to confinement. They have a wall locker, a toilet, sink and a cot. Their job is to listen, learn the rules and obey confinement personnel. It can be a very difficult thing for an inmate to accept.”

Having only been in the confinement section since the beginning of the year, Williams has already learned valuable lessons; lessons he hopes to communicate to fellow Airmen as equals, before poor decision making leads them to the roles of confinement NCOIC and inmate.

“Statistics tell us people are going to get in trouble,” Williams said. “But I would encourage Airmen to be accountable for their actions and believe in the core values. A lot of people forget them or think they do not matter, but I can tell you it matters when you come to a place like this and you spend your days reflecting on the integrity you should have had and the excellence you could be achieving. I guarantee 100 percent of the people who come here wish they could take things back and make things better.”