RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — King Salman of Saudi Arabia is shaking up the leadership of the kingdom’s military and internal security services, elevating younger officials at a time of increased military engagement abroad and sharp economic and social change at home.
In a series of royal decrees announced late Monday, the king discharged dozens of officials across the government, bringing in a new chief of staff for the Saudi military and new officials for security and economic policy.
A number of younger princes were named deputy governors and a woman was appointed deputy labor minister, a rare occurrence in the ultraconservative kingdom.
The personnel shifts come at a time of rapid change for the kingdom, propelled by the ascendance of the king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32.
Saudi Arabia remains locked in a largely stalemated war in Yemen, has imposed a blockade on neighboring Qatar, and it is looking for ways to push back against the influence of Iran, its religious and political nemesis.
Domestically, Prince Mohammed has consolidated tremendous power for himself while working to modernize the kingdom’s economy and social life.
As is typical in the highly opaque kingdom, the leadership offered no explanation for the abrupt changes. But analysts said they appeared to be in line with the young prince’s plans.
“There is definitely a move toward a younger generation,” said Mohammed Alyahya, a Saudi analyst and nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
Over several decades, Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of billions of dollars assembling an impressive array of military hardware from the United States, Britain and other countries. But the heavy spending never translated into an effective fighting force that would enable the kingdom to protect itself and engage in military ventures abroad.
Prince Mohammed has spoken publicly of his frustration over the gap between the kingdom’s military spending and its capabilities, which has become clear during the war in Yemen. The new changes seem to be part of an effort to narrow the gap.
The military appointments fit into a wider reorganization of the kingdom’s armed forces that seeks to make them more efficient and stronger players in the region, Mr. Alyahya said.
“The Saudi military is looking to become an organized, regional force on its own, and looking for more independence,” he said.
Those changes included a new chief of staff, Gen. Fayyad al-Ruwaili, new leaders for the air defense and land forces, and a royal endorsement of a road map for developing the Defense Ministry.
The changing of the guard extended to the Interior Ministry, which has historically run the kingdom’s internal security. Those forces had been led by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef until last year, when he was stripped both of his position as minister and his place as heir to the throne. The recently appointed officers appear to be replacing those tied to the ousted prince.
Three younger princes — sons of Talal, Ahmed and Muqrin, members of the king’s generation whose political careers has ended — were named deputy governors.
One of those, Prince Turki bin Talal, is a brother of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s most famous investor, who was detained recently in what the government called a crackdown on corruption. He was released last month.
The lone woman among the new appointees, Tamader al-Rammah, who was named deputy minister of labor, is not the first woman to hold such a rank in the kingdom but she is the only one to do so now. Her appointment adds to recent efforts to bring more Saudi women into the work force and to reduce societal restrictions on them.
In June, the government has said, it will grant women the right to drive.