Published: Feb 17, 2011 4:53 PM EST
Updated: Feb 17, 2011 1:54 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is considering proposals to increase the size of the Afghan security forces by between 45,000 and 70,000, amid worries about how much Afghanistan can absorb and what the U.S. can afford.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells a Senate committee that the U.S. will spend $12.8 billion in 2012 to train and equip the Afghan forces, a sum that can't be carried indefinitely.

U.S. commanders have said it is critical to increase the size of the Afghan forces beyond the goal of 305,000 by the end of this year. This is the first time officials have disclosed totals for the proposed increase under debate.

Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say that a decision is expected soon.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)