Is the US paying the Taliban to ensure that US supply trucks are allowed to get supplies to US troops in Afghanistan?

The UK Guardian has this amazing story. The biggest problem seems to stem from being "banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle."

At first the contract, for "host nation trucking", was large but not gargantuan. But over the summer, citing the coming "surge" and a new doctrine, "Money as a weapons system", the US military expanded the contract 600% for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: "Service members will not get the food, water, equipment and ammunition they require."
Each of the military's six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360m, or a total of nearly $2.2bn. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10% of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defence minister's well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.
Host nation trucking does, indeed, keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. "We supply everything the army needs to survive here," one American trucking executive told me. "We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles."
The epicentre is Bagram air base, just an hour north of Kabul, from where virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the army calls "the battlespace" – that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.
The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: "The army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money." . . .

Sometimes, he says, the fee is high, and sometimes it is low. "Moving 10 trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It's based on a number of trucks and what you're carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they're not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying Mraps [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] or Humvees, they are going to charge you more."
Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. "If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially." . . .

The heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don't really protect convoys of US military goods here because they simply can't; they need the Taliban's co-operation.
One of the big problems for the companies that ship US military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. Insurgents are "shooting the drivers from 3,000ft away" with Kalashnikovs, a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. "They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that's just a joke. I carry an AK – and that's just to shoot myself if I have to!" . . . .

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