Alles was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency's acting deputy commissioner before he was sworn in on Tuesday, hours after the announcement of his appointment. Joseph P. Clancy, the agency's most recent permanent director, resigned in March so that Trump could choose his own head of the agency.
Alles retired from the military in 2011 after a 35-year career as a major general. He will be the first Secret Service director in a century to have not served in the agency beforehand. His appointment will likely placate those who say the agency is in need of changes only an outsider could affect, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The Secret Service, the federal government law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is tasked with currency and Treasury securities counterfeiting issues, and more prominently, protecting former and current government leaders. Surveys indicate morale among its 6,500 employees is lower than in any other government agency, and attrition rates are higher. Alles will be dealing with structural weaknesses within the agency, as well as a growing mandate of protection of individuals.
The agency has recently had to answer to a series of glaring errors, most recently its response to a man who, on March 10, climbed fences to gain entry to the White House grounds, and stood on the building's portico for 17 minutes before he was apprehended. It has since updated security protocols and fired two agents who were on duty at the time.
Alles brings experience in logistics, the military and law enforcement to his appointment. He was a Marine pilot and commanding general of the Third Aircraft Wing in Iraq. He oversaw the 60,000 employees at Customs and Border Protection, including the U.S. Border Patrol.