The combatant commanders are involved in a set campaigns of their own that could have major ramifications for the next president.
In March, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tasked them to craft a set of first-ever "campaign plans" that will essentially define how the commands do business during peacetime, in wartime, and every time in between.
Gates' Guidance for the Employment of the Force, which mandated the campaign plans, does not spell out a deadline, but folks are trying to wrap them up by year's end, a Pentagon spokeswoman told InsideDefense.com in May.
The first drafts started trickling in during the summer, affording Pentagon officials a chance to comment.
The emerging plans recently landed on the desks of the folks in the Joint Staff's Joint Operational War Planning Division, which is part of the J-7 directorate.
"What we're in the process of reviewing now are really the outlines of frameworks in which the combatant commands think that they'll be operating," said Marine Corps Col. Jerome Driscoll, who heads the war planning shop.
There are high expectations connected to the plans. For example, officials hope the documents will finally shed some light on the issue of how many people and what kind of equipment the combatant commanders need to execute Gates' direction of increased focus on the training of foreign security forces.
The hope behind boosting foreign armies is that the U.S. military will need to interfere less in future crises.
It has been hard to get a clear picture of exactly what the COCOMs' requirements are in that area because U.S. Central Command needs, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are "sucking up all resources," one official said.
(In Pentagon-speak, there's even a fancy term to describe this: "suppressed demand signal.")
"No combatant commander would ever articulate a need, knowing that he wouldn't get it filled anyway," the official said.
Of course, much will depend on how the next president decides to use the COCOM campaign plans, if he gives credence to them at all.
-- Sebastian Sprenger