My experience is Navy, and it has been 20+ years since I was on active duty. Plus some experience with a friend who went through USAF
pilot training from start to C-17 about 2000-2002.
Aircraft squadrons has an Operations Department (USAF
Wings might have an Operations Squadron for the function). That department plans missions to meet tasking requirements, training requirements, etc. There are a set of enlisted men who keep track of flight hours of pilots, crew members and aircraft. Who needs to do what kind of flight to maintain qualifications, etc.
They also turn mission requirements into routes for the aircraft and air crew, and do many of the functions of the dispatcher. However, in a long mission, especially overseas - the navigator for the crew, and likely the pilots, will be involved in the mission planning. The route, the fuel stops, the RON stops, etc.
The loadmaster, flight engineer or aircraft captain (the enlisted man responsible for 'his' airplane - no matter who flies the bird) will be involved in detail in the load, weight and balance, etc.
When the aircraft deparrts on a mission such as KNZY-PHNG-PGUA-RJTA-PGUA-PHNG-KNZY - http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=KNZY-PH...GUA-PHNG-KNZY&DU=nm&SU=kts&RS=best
The route basics have been completed. One key factor in flight planning is making sure arrangements for the crew RON stops, meals, etc. Depending upon the aircraft size and squadron policy - many of these tasks will be delegated to certain members of the crew.
Prior to flying each leg, the pilots, navigator, radio operator if there is one, and flight engineer will meet at base operations and receive various briefs from weather, the ATC manager, etc. To each get his/her specific information.
The loadmaster will verify fuel and payload information. Nothing goes on or off the aircraft without his/her approval.
However, the training starts early. In Navy pilot training in 1977 when I was involved in it a bit, and in USAF
pilot training in 2000 - the trainee pilot plans every detail under the supervision of his instructor. The trainee pilot has to learn how to brief the entire route. How many approaches of which type will be flown on each leg, waypoints, ATC frequencies, alternates, weather, etc.
In that respect - it is not a lot different than a student working on his PPL has to do with his instructor for his training cross country flights. Just much more intense and many more flights than a civilian student.
I am sure there are people in big transport, and probably bomber, squadrons who function much as an airline dispatcher. I would be shocked if the 89th Airlift Wing doesn't have full-time dispatchers who plan every segment of every PAG flight working alongside the Secret Service.
But the need for flexibility due to changing mission requirements demands that regular military aircraft crews be able to complete all those functions and planning.