The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has fallen "woefully short" with its plan to meet armed forces' housing needs, a report from the Royal United Services Institute claims.
It outlines concerns that personnel could be driven away from the military if the MoD fails to improve the housing strategy it offers them and their families.
The think tank's paper entitled The Home Front: The Future Accommodation Model For The UK Armed Forces calls on the MoD to make significant changes to housing provision if it is to stay "affordable and relevant".
The paper suggests that the armed forces "should give increased priority to families' accommodation" and recognise that it is a significant element in the overall employment offer.
The MoD is currently testing various options for reforming Service Accommodation through an initiative known as the Future Accommodation Model (FAM).
But while RUSI acknowledges this, its paper argues that the plans are "woefully short on detail and methods of delivery, frustrating representatives of service families and other stakeholders".
The authors underline that "there is significant unease that the current FAM ambition will drive people, potentially, to leave the military rather than properly aiding retention".
Moreover, the report states that the FAM does not adequately address the reality that the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have differing needs and preferences for families' living accommodation.
RUSI also points to the selloff of more than 55,000 service family homes to Annington Property Limited in 1996 as "significant".
The MoD was criticised in January after the National Audit Office (NAO) found the ministry was up to £4.2 billion worse off for the sale.
The MoD has since rented them back on 200-year underleases and is paying more than £178 million a year for the remaining 39,000 properties.
RUSI's report states that the sale has brought year-on-year financial obligations to the ministry that it is "struggling to manage effectively and to afford".
One senior official told the authors:
"The accommodation deal is broken and a bad fit for us going forward. It has to be reformed and the FAM is our stab at doing just that."
An MoD spokeswoman said: "We are committed to providing our troops with accommodation that meets their needs and is good value.
“In the last three years, we have invested over £500m in housing and pledged a further £1.8bn through our Army Basing Programme to build thousands of new homes across the UK.
"Our Future Accommodation Model will offer increased choice to a greater number of personnel and we have been clear we will consult troops and their families as this develops."