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Intelligence operations are closely linked to global politics. The intelligence sector's interest in particular countries and regions ebbs and flows based on political and economic developments, while other countries and regions are in constant focus. For example, after years of being a secondary focus, Russia has now become an intelligence-community priority as a result of recent events in Georgia, Ukraine, and other eastern European countries. China remains a high-priority for the U.S. intelligence community as a result of its economic and military might and other factors. In the last 15 years, the United States has become focused on terrorist activity, particularly from groups based in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Eastern Asia, and remains concerned with the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. As the number of countries with nuclear capabilities increases—and as economic, political, and technological changes worldwide become more frequent—strategic intelligence gathering becomes more and more important to governments all around the world. Increasingly, governments must be able to make decisions based on predictions beyond the foreseeable future. Intelligence has become one of the world's largest industries (despite the public's concern about mass surveillance, government secrecy, and information privacy); in the United States alone, it is supported by a multibillion-dollar annual budget. For this reason, the outlook for intelligence jobs remains good, and new officers will be hired every year. People with specialized skills or backgrounds in the languages and customs of certain countries will continue to be in high demand.
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