The Times is reporting today that NATO is supporting Georgia in a new way - a network-based alliance. Surviving Georgian air-defense radars - of which there are many, particularly mobile types - have been plugged into NATO's air surveillance network.
The move was negotiated before the Georgian-Russian conflict, under the NATO Partnership for Peace program, but the switch-on occurred this week. NATO radar specialists had previously addressed the technical challenges of linking Russian-made radars to the NATO system.
The alliance has many advantages. In the currently sensitive situation, it allows NATO to constantly monitor traffic over Georgia - and large parts of neighboring Russia, particularly if radars are located on high ground in the Caucasus range - without the expense and provocation associated with moving AWACS surveillance aircraft into the region. In the event of Russian military action, NATO would have the same picture as the Georgian operators, and would be able to assess how a developing operation compared with normal operations.
Even before the war, Russia was grumbling that the Georgians were locating their radars closer to Russian territory than they were supposed to, in an effort to extend their range.